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Climate Change In The Deep Future

Deep future.  A paleoclimatologist takes a long look at where we’re all headed.

An image showing streetlights on Earth at night, part of an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington (AP)

An image showing streetlights on Earth at night, part of an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington (AP)

On special days, when we really put our minds to looking ahead, we might peer twenty, fifty, maybe a hundred years into the future.  And that’s a stretch.

Paleo-climatologist Curt Stager goes somewhat further. Into the past and into the future.  A hundred thousand years into the future.  Looking at planetary warming and cooling and consequences- hot ages and ice ages.

He says we, humans, will be around a hundred thousand years from now.  That’s news all on its own.  And what about the planet?  He’ll tell us.

This hour, On Point: deep future, and what’s to come.

- Tom Ashbrook


Curt Stager, paleoecologist and professor at Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths, New York. He is a science journalist who has written for National Geographic and Adirondack Life and is co-host of “Natural Selections,” a weekly science program on North Country Public Radio. His new book is “Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth.”

Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author. He is co-founder of 350.org, an environmental group working to help solve the climate crisis. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. He is author of “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.”


Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth
By Curt Stager

Chapter 1, Stopping the Ice

One can only hope that the expected extremes of the Anthropocene will not lead to conditions that cross the threshold to glaciation.
—Frank Sirocko, paleoclimatologist.

Shockingly long-term climatic changes await us as a result of modern human activity, but examining our effects on the deep future also raises a related question that is well worth considering: what would global climates have been like if we had left our fossil fuels in the ground rather than burning them?

In that alternative reality our descendants would still fret about climate, sea levels, and ice caps but the news would read quite differently from that of today. “There’s a massive, destructive climatic change coming, but scientists say that we can stop it if we take appropriate action now. If we go about business as usual, coastal settlements will be destroyed by sea-level shifts and entire nations will be covered with water. Frozen water. But there’s still hope. If we simply burn enough fossil fuels, we’ll warm the atmosphere enough to delay that icy disaster for thousands of years.”

I’m talking about the next ice age. When a paleoecologist like myself thinks about global climate change the exercise is as likely to involve visions of ice-sheet invasions as it is to include greenhouse warming. We still don’t know exactly why continent-sized glaciations come and go as they do, but they clearly have a rhythmic quality to them. Natural cyclic pulses take the long line of temperature history and snap it like a whip, looping it into a series of steep coolings and warmings. When viewed from a long-term perspective, major warmings of the past 2 to 3 million years can seem like brief thermal respites when the world came up for air between long icy dives; that’s why we call them “interglacials” rather than something that sounds more normal or permanent. The cyclic pattern also suggests that more ice ages await us in the future, so strongly in fact that climate scientists routinely refer to our own postglacial warm phase that we live in today as “the present interglacial.” Because of this admittedly unusual perspective, many of the paleoecologists I know balance their concerns about modern climate change with “yes, but it could also be a lot worse.”

Although such views are rare outside of narrow academic circles, I believe that they belong in the mainstream. Time perspectives long enough to include ice age prevention are not just the stuff of mind games but potentially important aspects of rational planning for our climatic future.

From Deep Future by Curt Stager. Copyright © 2011 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Hendrickson/1652586055 Joshua Hendrickson

    The picture of nightside citylights looks like Europe after the Borg assimilates Earth … but then, we ARE the Borg, so no surprises there.

    Predicting the future with any real accuracy or hope of success is a fool’s game, and always has been (hasn’t stopped thousands of fools and science fiction writers, though, nor should it), but it is still a fun game nonetheless. I recommend Gene Wolfe’s THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN as fine fiction set in the “ancient future” of Urth.

    • http://ibelieveinbutter.wordpress.com Soli

      Ha! I have a few friends who are completely enamored of the New Sun series (along with Long Sun and Short Sun). Been reading them myself, and it’s definitely a series for multiple returns.

  • Ryan S

    I am much more concerned with how things will look a few hundred or a thousand years from now. It will be impressive if our species manages to keep the planet on an even keel. If instead we melt the ice caps and put 600+PPM CO2 into the atmosphere what we get is a couple of hundred feet of sea level rise and some newly temperate land to the north. There will be winners and losers and mankind will survive – either way.

    Climate change is sort of like earthquakes and great storms on a grand time scale. It is part of the basic reality of the environment of the earth. Nice to be here when we’re just figuring this out, the rush of revelation is exhilarating, isn’t it?

    The greenhouse gases of the present time will persist for a few thousand years leaning hard against the 20,000 year cycle of change of the earth’s tilt on its axis. The earth was at it’s “warmest angle” at the end of the last ice age and it will be 3/4 of the way to it’s coldest after the millennial carbon burn off hangover has lifted (or more accurately fallen, the carbon precipitating out of the atmosphere).

    We’ve just scratched the surface of the full measure of understanding the physical universe. With the incredible rate of expansion of knowledge we’ve no clue about the tools available in the time frame it takes the slow motion tsunami of climate cycles to unfold.

    I’m sure this is a nice story and I’m looking forward to the show but let’s not get caught up in thinking we have much to do with solving those problems now.

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    LOL! Now we now know man made climate change is GOOD!

    Please send a copy to Al Gore, its time for a sequel, TRUTH2.

    Its now clear, we need a reverse cap and trade to encourage burning of fossil fuels to save the human race.

    Drill baby, drill!

  • Zeno

    The question should be How is human activity altering climate. Climate Change is too obscure for bulk consumption.

    There has been little progress in convincing humanity that it not really about resource scarcity, but about too much consumption. Humans are the only species that are intelligent enough to engineer their food supply, but after that we are little better than sheep or rabbits, because we continue to increase our numbers beyond the level of consumption.

    Drill Baby Drill = Consume Baby Consume. Climate alteration is a symptom of the very real problem that is rarely discussed: Overpopulation.

    Its not that there are too few resources…Its that there are too many consumers. The planet is already well past its natural carrying capacity for humans. Humanity is headed for a crash well before climate forces change. Ever growing numbers on declining resources is the next disaster. Climate change may trigger some awareness of overpopulation, but it will never be considered as the causation.


    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Interesting thesis. Humans have historically resorted to wars in times of extreme strife and that throttles population growth.

      Here’s another wrinkle. Where is the growth population growth? There is little growth in the educated societies. Even in the US the organic population growth is in the uneducated.

      • Zeno

        I don’t really worry about climate alteration. Mathematics for the rate of consumption and a little rational thinking prove that the world will be in chaos long before the planet decides to punish humanity for its hubris.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Zeno, your peak oil links are somewhat dated. They don’t include the latest technology and increase in new finds (Bakken) over the past 5 years.
      Are these finds real? Are we still at diminishing returns? Maybe.
      Since oil is primarily used for transportation we need to look at oil + nat. gas reserves since they are fungible(if we are smart enough to use nat. gas for cars).

      • Zeno

        True but there is no such thing as an infinite resource. The point being made is that peak oil has arrived. Simple observation is enough… The only light sweet crude being produced is in Libya. All other long term production is now sour (bottom of the reserve).

        If we weren’t past peak, we would not be producing from the arctic, deep sea, oil sands, etc.

        It will be debated that oil is a infinite resource. I have even heard theories that state it is generated as fast as it is being produced.

        We can expect much more of this kind of weird “science” as consumption outpaces production. But not to worry at some point the price of the resource due to scarcity will collapse most of the industrialized economies before its all been produced.

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Agreed. Cheap oil is finite is the key statement.

          However, thorium is a virtually infinite resource given the energy it contains. Liquid fuels can be synthesized for $30/barrel with these small high temperature reactors (LFTR). The basic science was demonstrated in the 60s. A few engineering details remain but we could have these things mass produced within 10 years.

          Eventually, they’ll figure out fusion too. Remember too cheap to meter? The only problem is its 40 years in the future (and its been that way for the last 40 years).

          • Zeno

            The problem with the Thorium reaction (as I understand it, and I need more reading on this.) is that it produces a form of waste that has a much longer half life. Since we don’t know what to do with the waste we have now I don’t know about the future of Thorium reactors.

            Fusion would change EVERYTHING. Hot or cold I will take it over all the alternatives…But is there time and energy enough to get there.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            LFTR is a molten salt reactor concept that has its roots in the MSR project from ORNL in the 60s.

            The total waste from this reactor reverts to mined uranium levels within 300 years. Clearly this is a huge improvement over the once through uranium cycle we now use.

            There have been many proponents of this over the years including Edward Teller and Alvin Wienberg (the inventor of the light water reactor). The reason it was killed in the 60s (height of the cold war) is it was very bad for creating nuclear bomb material.

            Check out this web site, there is a lot of info and links to ‘google tech talk’ videos:
            maybe start with this overview:

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Agreed. Cheap oil is finite is the key statement.

          However, thorium is a virtually infinite resource given the energy it contains. Liquid fuels can be synthesized for $30/barrel with these small high temperature reactors (LFTR). The basic science was demonstrated in the 60s. A few engineering details remain but we could have these things mass produced within 10 years.

          Eventually, they’ll figure out fusion too. Remember too cheap to meter? The only problem is its 40 years in the future (and its been that way for the last 40 years).

  • wwlaager

    I’ve read that some pollen evidence hints the climate has ‘flipped’ within a span of mere decades in the past. We’ve seen extremes of weather increase by magnitudes in my lifetime.

    Civilization is sustained by plant monocultures and reckless antibiotic usage in livestock. We are overdue, and ripe, for pandemics. Weather disasters in Russia, Pakistan, Australia will become more frequent. I fully expect, soon, the US and Canada will have drought, and/or heat waves that, besides killing thousands, will destroy our grain crops.

    Another Carrington Event, brought-on by solar flares, could destroy systems that reduce us to a non-electrical society. Most would probably die, but it may be among the few options that prevent the extinction of mankind. That’s what’s at stake & not spoken enough: extinction.

    Meanwhile, there’s lots of money to be made, just don’t think too much about the future. This is not meant a Jeremiad: it is the long cycle of mankind and the civilizations made–all destroyed by the weakest link.

    Walla Walla

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      “We’ve seen extremes of weather increase by magnitudes in my lifetime. ”

      That is a myth. Where’s the evidence?

      However, I agree with your greater point: we are more fragile than we believe we are.

      • wwlaager

        Here, in the Pacific NW, 100 year floods are becoming the norm.

        I’ve marked my calendar with the migratory arrival of goldfinches. In 1980 they arrived in late April. They now arrive in March. Robins live throughout the State year-around.

        Rather than go on and on… I keep my eyes, and mind, open. That is my evidence.

        Walla Walla

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Interesting anecdotes. There was a recent article here (Boston Globe) about arctic ADULT seals in large number off the coast of MASS and that is a rare event that they are this far south. Is the ocean cooling?

          Scientists have looked at major storms (hurricanes and tornadoes) and have not seen an increase. In fact, many in the climate community now believe we will see less storms because the distribution of global warming is uneven. There is more warming at the poles so the temperature gradient is smaller. They also think wind energy will decrease significantly and make windmills even less viable.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Worried, I heard a few years ago that an early effect of global warming would be a turning of the Gulf Stream, such that the tropical plants on the west coast of Scotland (I’ve seen them) won’t get that boost from down near Florida. And the cessation of the mediating effects of that northerly flow would affect this state (MA) in a cooling fashion, if I recall correctly.

          • ThresherK

            One hypothesis, named by a clever sort, is the Refrigerator Door Effect. Melting ice in the Arctic changes the distribution of its cooling power, as when the refrigerator door is left open.

            The fridge (the Arctic) gets warmer, and the immediate area (person looking into the fridge) gets cooler.

            Of course, at some point the fridge motor burns out because (as everyone’s dad once said) you can’t cool the whole kitchen forever.

  • Anonymous

    Harvard Astrophysicist: ‘Greatest threat’ we face is ‘from energy starvation policies implemented in name of preventing climate change’ — ‘Natural forces control our complex, unpredictable climate’


    • at

      At least you are consistent in your various opinion. Consistently incorrect.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you. Coming from you I will take that as a complement.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry this response is so late.

      Willy Soon’s column is a great reference as a list of almost ALL of the DISPROVED (e.g., FALSE!) claims of Anthropogenic Global Warming deniers (note: skeptics still have open minds, deniers don’t for multiple reasons, seldom scientific).

      Those that want to see and understand the reasons these claims are false can visit:


      or, for more technical discussions of the latest science:


      At the Skeptical Science blog three good starting points are:

      Newcomers, Start Here

      The Big Picture

      Most Used Skeptic Arguments

      The last is where a specific claim you want to understand will be found with a discussion of the actual science and why the claim is false. Anyone who cannot find a particular claim (look for different wordings, etc.) should submit the claim to the website and watch for answers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VDH4GYJMIUFU373W3XUQVD2V4E Patrick

    Would one of your guests be willing to deflate the “ClimateGate” controversy? I’m so sick of mouth-breathers bringing that up constantly.

    • Worried for the country(MA)


      The most damaging part of Climategate is the exposure of the lack of scientific method and the corruption of the peer review process amongst the cabal of key climate ‘scientists’ known as the ‘team’.

      Now other scientists are calling them out because they have given science a bad name. Look at this brief presentation by Berkley physics professor and climate researcher Richard Mulller. He really rips into the ‘team’: [btw - Muller does believe in global warming but also believes in scientific method].

      • Anonymous

        This “climategate” controversy is LESS than a tempest in a teapot. It has been THOROUGHLY debunked by TWO British investigations, investigations at VT and Penn State and I think at least one more. See details at http://www.skepticalscience.com/.

        But the deniers never fail to try to take advantage of anything they can take out of context or make up something that “sounds good.” How many people know that if you repeat something (a LIE) often enough a lot of people will believe it? It isn’t called “the BIG lie” for nothing.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I hope this show lays it out so the voting and oil-consuming public gets a more or less unified understanding of the situation. There is such an overlay that is quasi-religious that presumes the eternal survival of (and domination by) our species and the general guidance of a Higher Authority. That is cultural, but it doesn’t have to be in conflict with science. We just have to take the longer view. If we learn to control global cooling, we can learn to control global warming. But what a long view comes into play. Why bother? I think it’s up to us. For starters, I’m listening to Professor Stager, and planning to store up his points for immediate and future use in heated arguments.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      ‘heated arguments’
      Ellen was that a pun? :)

    • Anonymous

      Both AGW and the next Ice Age are problems humans face. BUT, and it is a BIG “BUT”, think of it like the man wading into the swamp to drain it and being surrounded by alligators: if he doesn’t deal with the alligators, he won’t get to drain the swamp.

      AGW will have huge effects by 2050 or sooner and is represented by the alligators; the next Ice Age is over a thousand years away.

      Human civilization (humans living together in large cooperative groups) is only 10,000 years or so old and has not experienced a global climate with average temperature outside a range of about 1.5° C; the current trend is rocketing up out of that range FASTER than in ANY previous climatic shift the Earth has undergone.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There is a swath of Americans who think it takes only one person to assert something or other to make it so. To an amazing degree this is true. One scientist, Einstein, discovering the relation between energy, mass, and the speed of light. One scientist saying that the atmosphere can actually insulate us, that CO2 can act like the glass around a greenhouse, and our exudations are kind of like a furnace inside that greenhouse. So, is this more or less likely than Einstein’s idea that time can stretch out depending on your speed? I ask you. And you get from one such scientific principle to nuclear energy and so forth. Where does Glenn Beck come down on the energy encased in a single atom? It doesn’t matter because it hasn’t happened yet? Oh, but it has happened. Global warming? How many scientists does it take to go through the eye of a needle, as the old saying goes. After a point, doesn’t truth speak for itself, regardless of who first pointed to it?

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Referencing Einstein in such close proximity to Glenn Beck?

      Now my head hurts…..LOL

    • Anonymous

      The problem with waiting for a truth to be self-evident is that there may not be time to ameliorate the effects of that truth before a catastrophe will occur.

      The current level of CO2 has been building up for over 100 years and we are seeing and feeling the effects of lower but still too high levels. When the effects of current levels are in full bloom in 15 to 50 years, it will take reducing the levels to yesterday’s levels to get back to today’s climate.

      When you turn off the heat under a pot of boiling water, it takes a bit before the bubbling stops (time depends on heat source, gas or electric coil; the analogy here is more the coil) and then even longer before the water temperature drops. Think decades when it comes to CO2 and climate.

  • Yar

    I would like the climate change conversation to evolve into how to improve quality of life for all now. The privileged few, here in the US, where 2 percent of the world population consumes 30 percent of world resources, have great quality of life, only it is at the expense of the rest of the world. What is often left unsaid in climate change debate is the how our overconsumption is imposing poverty and hunger on the rest of the world today. The climate change denial is not about climate, it is over a ‘right to exploit’ not only resources but people as well.
    The resource curse is ravaging communities around the world, in the hills of Appalachia to the deserts of the middle east. Rand Paul, my senator is saying low flow toilets and compact florescent light bulbs are examples of too much government regulation. If the actions of individuals didn’t affect quality of life for others, I could accept his limited government ideology. But when people have access to resources that they use and that degrade the quality of life for the rest of the planet, we must regulate what people do.
    My understanding of the human psyche is that we initially desire sustainability. Mainly we want to live forever, as we realize that we are mortal, our anger and frustration overtakes our desire to do right and we pretty much just consume as fast as we can. There are exceptions but this seems to be the general rule.
    So how do the environmentally enlightened share a path to a more abundant life, without more resources? The birkenstock, vegetarian, holier than thou, academic superiority attitude, that currently is associated with the environmental movement can’t bridge the gap necessary to connect with communities that are bearing the brunt of resource exploitation. If we paid the true cost of resource extraction today, we would have appropriate incentives to find better sources of energy tomorrow. Climate change is the result of human rights exploitation in extraction zones, take care of that and the climate will take care of itself. Treating people right will treat the environment right.

    • John from Plainville MA

      You bring up perhaps the most important point to related to resource exploitation. NO consumer knows the TRUE COST of anything they purchase. I buy a gallon of gas for 3.50 today. But that does not take into consideration how much money the government spent to provide the armed forces that protected the flow of oil to the United States. What about the tax incentives given to the megabusinesses that provide America with fossil fuels?

      If we started shifting the true costs of fossil energy consumption onto consumers and businesses, I’ll bet that meaningful alternative energy would start showing up on the market in a fraction of the time that it will take otherwise.

      • Zeno

        It would be a good idea to have energy use labeling for all products. At least the consumer could choose wisely when making a purchase to minimize the cost of consumption.

        I would like to see the energy consumption to produce a quart of motor oil. I bet that with the refining, shipping, and packaging it would bet that its the equivalent to a least a gallon of oil.

      • at

        I would say that the biggest cost was the wholesale giveaway of all the US oil that we used to have in the ground here in the US to a few large corporations that have in turn corrupted our entire culture. Even when we invade a country the question of who will get the oil gets a more even handed consideration than we had here. Up until the begining of the seventies the US was the largest oil producer in the world. No thought was given to sharing the wealth with the real owners of the oil, the people.

    • at

      My search results conclude that Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.

      • Ellen Dibble

        at, hi. I suppose we also do 24% of the world’s “defense” operations and 24% of the world’s science in support of AIDS research and so forth and so on.

    • twenty-niner

      I’m waiting for Al Gore to lead the way…

      Here’s his latest mansion:

      “Al Gore’s New $8.875 Million Montecito Villa”



      • Yar

        When the people lead the leaders will follow, eventually.
        The idea that only the pure can advocate for doing better is a false doctrine. Most of us aren’t even trying to make the world a better place. I believe removing much of the complexity from life makes us happier and healthier.

        • twenty-niner

          Disagree. Leadership is not about the self but about showing the way, by example and then by rhetoric.

          “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

          - Mahatma Gandhi

  • Ellen Dibble

    Zeno, there was a show on population effects a few months back. I hear you about rate of consumption/population growth, and basically every capitalist on the planet wants more people because that creates more consumers. So that’s where I think the problem lies. The wealth we use to govern ourselves is wealth created by consumption. And so there may be exactly what you predict. However, it is harder to control human wars than climate, it seems to me. We can use science to control the human effects if science can get a grip on what is necessary. But the inter-human effects of overpopulation take another kind of approach, probably not scientific, and possibly will be not at all scientific, and we will be helpless. We might evolve into noncapitalists.

    • Zeno

      Well there have been many books proclaiming that market economies based on ever increasing consumption are doomed. So..since there is no such thing as a infinite resource which is the presumption of the model, then yes we will be forced into being something different than we are now.

      If the world population were 200,000 then all resources could be considered infinite.

  • Ellen Dibble

    What motivation would get people like Rand Paul to forward the torch for “treating people right” so as to treat the environment right?
    I think the human psyche is a little different than you depict. Something makes us want to live forever (maybe fear of death, that old Darwinian survival instinct), but about the time we come to terms with mortality, we also get a chance to reproduce, and we quickly come to see that our immortality lies in the lives of our progeny. And those of us without offspring see our immortality more generally in the future of the species, and we invest more generally in the species than in a specific family. The more general view of providing for a general sustainability has a better chance of getting us past the threats to human survival than the more tribal us-against-them Darwinian modes of the past, that favor parts of our species rather than the species in general, which stands to lose everything.

  • Ellen Dibble

    What motivation would get people like Rand Paul to forward the torch for “treating people right” so as to treat the environment right?
    I think the human psyche is a little different than you depict. Something makes us want to live forever (maybe fear of death, that old Darwinian survival instinct), but about the time we come to terms with mortality, we also get a chance to reproduce, and we quickly come to see that our immortality lies in the lives of our progeny. And those of us without offspring see our immortality more generally in the future of the species, and we invest more generally in the species than in a specific family. The more general view of providing for a general sustainability has a better chance of getting us past the threats to human survival than the more tribal us-against-them Darwinian modes of the past, that favor parts of our species rather than the species in general, which stands to lose everything.

    • Zeno

      I watched an excellent documentary about how fear of death is linked directly to violence. If I remember the title at some point today I will post it here.

      • at

        It has also been experimentally shown that the mere mention of human mortality (in what ever form) increases the incidence of violence against those that we perceive as alien or different and generates feelings of emotional bonds to those we see as the same as us or part of our group.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Yep, and I was thinking of chilly exchanges as well.


    Will there be any discussion by climate change skeptics citing their evidence and arguments for not embracing the theory that climate change is man-made? Or is anyone who embraces a different viewpoint automatically considered a politically incorrect neanthderthal with nothing of any value to say? And if that is the case, when will Al Gore, Barbara Streisand, and all of other Hollywood lefties move out of their 20000+ square foot houses that consume massive amounts of energy and start living a less energy intensive lifestyle if they really believe if man-made global warming?

    • DramaNewsDuncan

      If the basis of your opinion on climate change is what leftist Hollywood etc is doing, you really need to get beyond your AM Radio
      and Fox news.
      Sure there are legitamate questions regarding what the next 50 or 100 years will bring. But answers won’t come until Diddo Heads and right wing oil funded think tanks are effectively called out for the documented lies and distortions that they so freely add too so called rational public policy arguements.

    • Fly Priddy

      We, as humans, dump some pretty nasty stuff on this Earth, pump some crazy nasty plumes into the atmosphere, and are generally irresponsible in our waste management. Science PROVES we are, at least, a small part of the issue…why not try and improve ourselves and not be so gross and wasteful? Also, your Al and Barbara argument is flimsy. There are REAL people in this world who care, and simplify their lives for the betterment of Earth and allow their common man the rights to drink clean water and have toxic-free soil, and provide ecosystems that don’t choke out species because of our NEED as humans to have THINGS. I don’t give a crap what Al Gore does…so your argument is moot.


        I am all for living a simple lifestyle, driving a fuel efficient car, reducing our dependence upon fossill fuels, not throwing stuff away, and instead replacing them with renewables, etc. My point is simply that those who are often quoted as spokesmen for a movement (An Inconvenient Truth) do the movement a great disservice and invite skepticism as a result of their hypocritical lifestyles.

        • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

          The scientific evidence and consensus on AGW is not the same as the AGW movement. You’re confusing science with politics. All along, the vast majority of climate scientists have been against the politicization of AGW. That is the whole problem here. Politicians made it a political issue, some for, some against. The anti-AGW movement is a political response to the Pro-AGW political movement, not the science.

          You have to understand the hierarchy, the conventions, of science in order to know why more scientists don’t speak out. Science is not an individual pursuit, it is teamwork. It is also very conservative (as in “restrained in style”, not the political definition) in its structure. For an individual scientist to speak out on an issue is rare. When they do, it may be viewed by their colleagues as one person claiming credit for an acheivment or seeking the limelight. The peer pressure to stay out of a political issue is immense.

          We need to take the politics out of science.

          Climate scientist (MIT) and conservative Kerry Emanuel discusses why he thinks political views shouldn’t sway scientific thinking, in this Science Friday interview with Ira Flatow on NPR: http://xrl.in/8csw

    • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

      Having a different viewpoint is one thing; expecting equal time for a viewpoint that isn’t backed by peer-reviewed scientific evidence is a whole different thing. Go do years of climate research, publish studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and have a consensus of 95%+ of the world’s climate scientists, then you can have equal weight applied to your global warming viewpoint, and be deserving of equal time in the media.

      BTW, “climate change skeptic” is an oxymoron. A skeptic, by definition, is a person who challenges that which isn’t backed by scientific evidence, and/or withholds an opinion until the sufficient scientific evidence is in. So-called “climate change skeptics” refuse to look at the evidence, so in reality, they are “climate change deniers.” Deniers, unlike skeptics, cherry-pick the evidence that supports a pre-determined conclusion. Scientists collect data, analyze it and then develop a theory (never final, they’re always open to more evidence and willing to change/adapt their theory) from the evidence.

      Responses to 21 Responses to Questions & Objections on Climate Change: http://xrl.in/8bvi

      • Robot

        “Deniers, unlike skeptics, cherry-pick the evidence that supports a pre-determined conclusion. Scientists collect data, analyze it and then develop a theory (never final, they’re always open to more evidence and willing to change/adapt their theory) from the evidence.” MJR


        • Worried for the country(MA)


          The climate ‘scientists’ cherry picked the data in the hide the decline scandal.

          So now the scientists in the scandal are deniers? Right? Deniers of scientific method.

          ‘open to more evidence’. Nope. If you looked into climategate they were doing their best to corrupt the peer review process by rejecting any paper that disputed their pre-conceived findings.

          If don’t see this you haven’t looked deeply enough or you are dishonest. Harsh but true.

          I agree Climategate is a small blip but it needs to be cleaned up properly. Climate science will be better and more believable as a result.

          • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

            I don’t think you know the meaning of “peer-reviewed.” The scientist and the reviewers are anonymous to each other, until the review and rewrites are complete and the paper is accepted for publication.

            Give up the Climategate, it has been thoroughly debunked.

          • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

            p.s. It is a complete falsehood that peer-review journals reject papers for any reason other than they are not up to the standards for publication, or the limited amount of space in the journals. Each year, thousands of researchers receive rejection notices from peer-review journals. Whether they were rejected due to space considerations, or low quality work, the only difference between them and people like Anthony Watts is that they don’t cry about the rejection. They go back to their research, redouble their efforts, write new papers and submit them; they don’t start a blog to self-promote and whine.

          • Robot

            I have indeed looked into “climategate” and it is clear that a small handful of questionable emails amoung thousands, proved to be sloppy, or poorly represented data. The so called hide the decline emails are not proof of anything other than that there is a discrepancy between historic tree ring data and data gathered more recently with contemporary technology. That discrepancy with respect to tempurature rise is acknowledged in many other emails and papers far more than it was ignored or left out. Regardless, these are minor aspects within the whole of the body of scientific evidence regarding climate change and they do not alter the overwhelming consensus that the climate is warming and changing.

            The fundamental TRUTH about “climategate” is that there is no real scandal and the emails in question were authored by only a few scientists. In addition the extent to which the emails are misleading or falsely represent data has been greatly misconstrued and exagerated by climate change deniers and skeptics.

            I say again there is no scandal. Climategate was an attempt to confuse the public and convolute the premise that man made, green house gas emissions are in fact warming the planet and changing the climate, to an unknown and potentially very destructive end.


          Except when it comes time to honestly evaluate the many problems with the theory of evolution and the evidence that the Biblical account of a 7 day creation best explains the universe. Then any evidence is dismissed by name calling and denying a forum for the evidence. “Being open to more evidence then goes out the window). Watch Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled” which cites the personal experiences of many highly regarded scientists and academics who were then dismissed despite their highly regarded academic and other work because of their intelligent design interpretation of the data.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Hendrickson/1652586055 Joshua Hendrickson

            O’Brien? O’Brien? O’Brien?
            Ben Stein’s calling on you, O’Brien.
            Oops, I guess you’re at work in the Ministry of Love.
            O’Brien? O’Brien? O’Brien?
            But seriously, what evidence that the Biblical account of a 7 day creation best explains the universe? What peer-reviewed, falsifiable, fact-based evidence do you refer to?

          • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

            I’d be ROTFLMAO if this wasn’t such a ridiculous assertion. I mean, how do you explain — that since dinosaurs and mammoths co-existed, starting only 6,000 years ago, according to creationist “theory” — why dinosaurs are only found as fossils, unlike mammoths, which have been found with flesh and viable DNA?

            As for “Expelled” . . .

            Here are links to three “Skepticality” interviews with some scientists interviewed for “Expelled”

            Dr. Randy Olson: http://tinyurl.com/6cey72z

            Dr. Eugenie Scott: http://tinyurl.com/67jvtxx

            Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer: http://tinyurl.com/6d5ll8z (particularly enlightening: the Michael Shermer portion of the interview starting at about 24:09)

  • mike in charleston sc

    I was a student of Dr. stager at psc in the early 90′s, when climate change/global warming was more widely accepted than it is now. It’s been suggested that climatologists have been out-marketed by big oil, the Right, and other flat-earthers. Obviously the majority of americans arent swayed by scientific reasoning, so beyond more books and studies, what can be done to appeal to peoples hearts and convince them its in their best interest to start acting/voting?

  • Ellen Dibble

    The challenging thing is not that Al Gore, Barbara Streisand, and also myself live in dwellings supplied with electricity, heating, cooling, hot water, etc., etc., but rather that the world is set at the starting line on a race to see who can consume the MOST of all these things ASAP. And the bootstraps of capitalism, the producers, the investors, are at the starting line waiting to see who can profit the most from this race to maximum consumption.
    If we all lived in sod houses with outhouses and lived on vegetables and rainwater, would that help the planet? Not if India and China and then who next, all of everybody else, takes our place in ruining the planet.


      My point is that if people like Al Gore and others who scream the loudest about man made climate change really believe that it is occuring, then they should set an example by living a modest lifestyle rather than demonstrating hypocrisy by saying one thing and doing the opposite. It reminds me of Leona Helmsley when she said “only the little people pay taxes.” The Al Gore equivalent is that “only the little people should reduce their energy consumption.”

  • george

    i invite your guest to address this perspective. many scientists and lay people seem to focus on whether the temperature is rising on earth or not, whether the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is rising or not, and whether or not these things are man made or not. the situation is made more difficult because data on global temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentrations were only directly measured for parts of the 20th century and interpotion from data proxys (like ice cores, pollen studies, etc) is required to project the curves farther back in time.

    my response is the following. scientists of all kinds agree that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps the earth’s black body radiation in the earth’s atmosphere, adding energy to system that is the planet earth, which can be reflected in a rise in global temperature. regardless of average global temperture data, to argue that atmospheric levels of CO2 aren’t rising, or that the amount of CO2 injected into the atmosphere as a result of mining fossil fuels and combusting them since the first half of the 19th century is not significant relative to other atmohpheric CO2 fluctuations over deep geologic time is at best irresponsible and at worst an effort to intentionally and fundementally disinform the public. there are those in the scientific community that would qualify or disagree with what i am stating at fact, but the overwhelming majority of scienists around the world agree that these facts are true.

    the question that is hardest to answer is whether or not the anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2 is substantial enough to affect earth’s natural variations in climate. while i think this is an important question, i do not think that it is of great important in the context of deciding whether or not to undertake policies to reduce mankind’s contribution to atmospheric CO2. we understand utterly the dynamics of atmospheric chemistry related to CO2; increases in CO2 concentration result in increases in energy in the system, usually reflected in an increase in temperature. given the potential costs that humans face as a result of climate change and knowing what we know, there should be very little push back against adopting a cautionary approach.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Imagine what the Tea Party and folks like, um, rhymes with Handsta[n]d, would think of the idea that atomic energy could spare our soldiers from having to invade Japan? Did it take the scientists 30+ years to persuade the Glenn Becks of the 1930s? Nope. They kept it DEEP DARK SECRET.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Somebody is going to say you are promoting communism. Somebody is going to say the default to democracy would revert to authoritarianism. Think of George Orwell? I think we are looking at a world right now that has an idea of The People don’t seize the reins, the alternative will be control by the elites, the owners of the corporations that control production and distribution (wouldn’t that be the same, if those elites buy the votes?).
    So there is still the idea that individuals can be oppressed, but they can reclaim the right to make their own decisions (isn’t that called fighting amongst themselves)? So if that isn’t unending civil strife, what is it?
    Can a democratic form of government address global threats? Imagine the level of cooperation and collaboration that will be required. Oh, the FaceBook generation.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I get your point. But setting an example has to take into account a few things. Al Gore surely travels a lot, both by car and by plane, in order to personally address people who could make a difference in carrying his message. That probably consumes a lot more energy than an outsize residence.
    To ask what about the USA providing an example to the world of energy conservation, I ask myself this: Why shouldn’t we be “rich enough” to, for example, support a National Science Foundation and institutions of higher learning that help us dig ourselves out of this mess that our overconsumption has caused? And in order to support those scientific efforts, don’t we need a booming economy and all that? So it goes round and round. I think that playing possum and saying we curl up and return to the 17th century and hope that everyone else will follow suit, isn’t this nice — NOT EXACTLY.

  • Moby

    Long-term speculation is interesting. Meanwhile, we already have rising sea levels along coastal cities, increasingly strong variability in wind strength (storms up to how many miles per hour coming soon?), increasing evaporation (and poisoning) of potable water (and consequent droughts and dust storms), and food shortages that result in armed conflicts throughout the planet.

    Of course, a few countries are already disappearing beneath the waves . . . . Better to be prudent now, since nobody has The Crystal Ball.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think “prudence” barely describes the approach that is necessary. I wouldn’t say this except that I see McKibben has been added to the panel for this morning. As I understand it, the word “acceleration” applies to global warming. Not even moderate acceleration, as in change that happens at 1 mile an hour this decade goes at 3 miles an hour next decade and then at 9 miles an hour the decade after that. As I understand it — and this seems to move “informed citizens” to take the approach “live for today” because there is no hope for a real future — the acceleration in climate change, EVEN WITHOUT adding the profits the corporations hope for from galloping consumption in “emerging economies” like China, India, Brazil — even without adding to our damage to the planet, the results will be galloping acceleration, with turnaround necessary and only possible with unimagined political and scientific solutions. Political global awareness and cooperation will have to be as careful as if you were in a spacesuit, and scientific management will have to be beyond current possibilities. I wait to hear.

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    New study show ‘global greening’. Higher CO2 levels result in booming biosphere in nothern hemisphere:


    • ThresherK

      …and infestations of insects which used to die during the winter, now laying waste to, for one instance, Canadian forests. (http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0710-hance_pine_beetles.html and many other places)

    • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

      “What’s Up With That?” is a site run by weather caster and Anthropogenic Global Warming Denier Anthony Watts. Watts is not a climatologist, he’s not even a meteorologist. He hasn’t earned a bachelor’s or higher degree in atmospheric science or meteorology from an accredited college/university.

      More at SourceWatch.Org: http://xrl.in/8bv9

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Michael, you are deflecting. He was simply posting a peer reviewed paper.

        Also, you should do better homework on the quality of that site. Of course it is just a blog but the quality of references and links to real science is of unusually high quality.

        Sure you can label him a skeptic but he is interested in promoting real science, like a watch dog. For instance, he is a supporter of the BEST project at Berkeley.

        • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

          I don’t label Watts a skeptic. I label him a denier. He cherry picks the evidence. That is not science. He has links to “real” science? Do “real” science link back to him?

          Google search “debunking anthony watts”: http://xrl.in/8bw2

          And from RealClimate.Org: http://xrl.in/8bw5

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Your arguments don’t hold water. So much so, it is clear that you have formed your opinion without actually viewing the wattsup blog.

            Your assertion the Mr. Watt’s is a denier is not consistent with any of my first hand observations. In from his blog’s about Mr. Watts self describes:

            “While I have a skeptical view of certain climate issues, I consider myself “green” in many ways, and I promote the idea of energy savings and alternate energy generation. Unlike many who just talk about it, I’ve put a 10KW solar array on my home, plus a 125 KW solar array on one of our local schools when I was a school trustee. I’ve retrofitted my home with CFL’s and better insulation, as well as installed timer switches on many of our most commonly used lights.

            I also drive an electric car for my daily around town routine.”

            “Does ‘real’ science link back to him?” And then you include in your rebuttal the links from RealClimate.Org. Don’t you consider RealClimate.Org a real science site? After all, it is the official site of the “team”.

            Mr. Watts blog provides a valuable service because some in the climate science community do not welcome any contrary analysis to their work. In fact, their sites are heavily moderated and censored. Mr. Watts provides a voice to those working for unfiltered science.

            Give it a shot, you may be surprised.

          • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

            Anthony Watts states in his bio:

            “While I’m not a degreed climate scientist, I’ll point out that neither is Al Gore, and his specialty is presentation also.”

            He’s not denying that he views himself as as scientist or that he presents himself as scientist, only that he isn’t a “degreed climate scientist.” Al Gore has never claimed to be a scientist. If he did, he’d be laughed out of town by scientists, like Watts currently is. True scientists — those who underwent rigorous training and education, struggling for years, taking out student loans, working for peanuts, etc. — are not very thrilled, or impressed by, people falsely claiming scientific credentials. Yes, many non-educated people have become scientists and made great discoveries. However, their work was looked over carefully by the scientific community of their time, and accepted or rejected on the data and evidence.

            “green” and “AGW denier” are not mutually exclusive terms.

            I’m not a scientist, nor am I claiming to be a scientist. My links were to articles that debunk Watts’ claims. My point was that anyone can place links on a website to any other site they please, no permission required. You wrote “Of course it is just a blog but the quality of references and links to real science is of unusually high quality.” By that very statement you seem to be implying that Watts’ blog is not real science. In fact, what he is doing is attempting to bring legitimacy to himself by linking to real science websites. If his site is legitimate, those sites would have no problem linking back to him, now would they? Other than under a “AGW Deniers” heading, that is.

            RealClimate is by real climate scientists. Here is their link to Data Sources (including raw data): http://xrl.in/8ct9 Show me the censoring and heavy moderation that you allege is taking place in the science community.

            Watts’ blog is political in its very nature; that is obvious by the “Climategate” tab at the top. “Climategate” is a political term. It has nothing to do with real science.

            And please, give me the science journals’ (where Watts is published) links to Anthony Watt’s peer-reviewed articles. I’ve searched WUWT for a simple link to his peer-reviewed papers, but have not yet found one.

            I noticed that WUWT has an on-line store where one can purchase t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. There is no such thing on the RealClimate website. The only thing for sale there are books on the subjects of climate and global warming.

    • Philip

      Besides which, CO2 is rarely a limiting factor in plant growth. Limiting nutrients like Nitrogen and Phosphorus are NOT becoming more abundant. Plant growth cannot possibly keep up with the rise in atmospheric carbon.
      This is a ridiculous straw that only the most desperate of deniers grasp at. It has been debunked on a number of levels, some that even laymen like ourselves should be able to handle.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Then get YOUR research published in a peer review journal like these authors did.

        • Philip

          Not my research, smart aleck. The point is that Watts ISN’T peer-reviewed. He’s a known denialist, deep in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. He’s a tool, a crackpot. He’s every bit as dishonest as Andrew Wakefield, the guy who started the MMR vaccine-autism scare.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Evidence to your scandalous assertions?

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            I have to apologize. The CO2 link is NOT in the original paper.

            However, from what I’ve observe about the quality of the blog I don’t buy your assertions of corruption. Most of the contributors are skeptics but truly want true science. Its not a scientific journal and doesn’t purport to be one.

        • Robot

          Worried for the Country…. PLEASE stop with the Climate Gate nonsense! There is no CLimate Gate!

          You cannot discredit thousands of legitamte emails, peer reviewed papers, decades of research, evidence and global scientific consensus based upon a few emails that show poor judgement and poorly executed science.

          If I have to put forth skepticism regarding anything (not toward climate change), it is toward your motives for constantly posting on this board the link to Richard Muller railing against climate scientists and climate change. (Muller himself is discredited in many scientific cirlces, just google his name).

          This one Berkely physics professor does not invalidate the work of the entire global scientific community with his discussion of one bogus graph.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Muller discredited? I think not.

            I agree the Climategate does not discredit ALL climate research but as Muller points out it paints an ugly picture about the distortion of scientific method and the peer review process IN the climate community. He is doing a service by exposing the corruption and asking them to clean up their act.

            Any real scientist should be lauding his actions.

            Muller himself is a believer in AGW and is spearheading a project to ‘clean up’ the global temperature measurement and reporting that was around the center of the scandal.

      • RB

        Actually it’s more complicated than just ‘limiting factors’. More CO2 in the air allows plants to keep their stomates (pores) more closed when they need to to conserve water while still gathering the CO2 they need. So they can still effectively photosynthesize in drier conditions. Lots of plants are also engaged in symbiosis with fungi – trading sugar for mineral nutrients. So more carbon can be leveraged into more mineral nutrients. (I’m an ecologist who’s very concerned about global warming, by the way.)

        • Anonymous

          You might want to visit the study which reviewed reports of the various corn varieties grown all over Africa and found that with average temperature (climate) increases of as little as 1° C to 2° C, the corn productivity DROPPED (DECREASED) by as much as 20%. There are many other such studies of crops IN THE FIELD!

          Just like all those medical breakthroughs hailed by lab workers, when the item moves out to treat real people under all world conditions, the antiseptic lab conditions, necessary for identifying effects, do NOT always predict results when other conditions also change.

  • Bluzader

    Please – let us give up the discussion of Global Warming or Climate Change! Let’s start looking at this issue as one where we Humans need to use ALL natural resources in a more efficient, more recycled, less polluting manner. Let us put the term Conservation back into the conversation about how we live on this planet!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tom.

    Can you ask your guest, if there is any connection between the magnetic pole flux and the recent big earthquakes?

    • Ellen Dibble

      Oh, ToyYoda, this is related to something I’ve been wondering since Japan’s earthquake. Someone posted that the shift in water weight from the ice caps is causing the weight/mass of the planet to create unusual forces that are triggering earthquakes.
      The person did not post with a real name. It was a week ago last Sunday that he/she posted. But I remember it, because I had been thinking that at least one kind of disaster is NOT related to human activity, that being earthquakes, and here was someone saying science is telling us to the contrary.
      I’m not sure if by “magnetic pole flux” you mean the natural flux or something manmade. But I’m hoping the paleogeologists address that.

      • Anonymous

        Ellen. Recorded in rocks, often times at oceanic ridges, is a history of how our poles are oriented. Earth’s poles flip flop; north becomes south and south becomes north. We are currently in such a transition and the flip will most likely happen in our lifetime or the next!!

        No one really knows why it flips, but all theories that I’ve read posit that there is a flow change in the Earth’s liquid outer core, but they don’t know why.

        So I would reason if there is a systematic change in the flow of the liquid outer core, is it possible the changes can affect the flow of the outer mantle, and there fore, does it mean more tectonic plate activity, and thus perhaps more earthquakes?

        I don’t know. I couldn’t listen to all of the show, so maybe they didn’t even get to it.

  • Anonymous

    Where can we see this chart they are referring to?

  • Bill

    This reminds me of something I heard recently about a person giving a talk in Portland about the distant future and referring to a time after humans have become extinct. A person in the audience became a bit upset and asked, “Even Americans will go extinct?’

  • Philip

    You speak of human settlement’s impact in blocking free migration, but what do you say about the sheer rapidity of the changes and the impact of that on species’ ability to adapt over long timescales?
    Are we essentially headed for the next mass extinction, on the scale of the K-T boundary, or something lesser?

  • Archima

    TOM and all…
    Go to this- http://www.sciencephoto.com/
    Then type in “global water” at search box…
    I was blown away to see a vision of the real amount of water that exists on our planet.
    Unfortunately, the vast majority of even “scientific” illustrations grossly
    misrepresent the truly small amount of water on the Earth- not to mention
    the preciously miniscule amount of useable fresh water, which is about .01% of the total.
    The representations of the total water (and total air) are ‘real’…
    I checked it against NOAA statistics.
    This should be posted everywhere!!!

  • BHA in Vermont

    We, as a species, have proven we are incapable of self limiting our population and we have no predators. We have moved medicine forward to the point there is no major population loss due to disease. Wars and natural disasters take a toll, but they are lost on the population growth chart.

    I am glad I won’t be around in 100K years to see what life is like for people, flora and fauna on this planet when places like Mumbai with a population density (today) of 29,650 per square kilometer would look like open space .

    I am glad I won’t be around in 100 years for that matter. The thing that will limit humans is starvation and there will be a lot of it.

    • ThinkAgain

      We do indeed have predators. As we succeeded in subduing our natural predators of the passed hundreds of thousands of years, their place was taken by kings and tyrants, and more recently the super wealthy, who through their mass policies have killed more human being than any collection of large felidae from our past.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Aha, cannibalism. And maybe the 200-year spike that I apparently missed the explanation of goes like this: human beings self-destruct to the extent we no longer have the capacity to self-destruct. (I wish the excerpt given would include that piece.)

        • Zeno

          I think I will watch Soylent Green tonight.

          • Worried for the country(MA)


          • Worried for the country(MA)

            THE solution to population growth.

    • Moby

      Our predators are MRSA bacteria, evolving strains of flu that are mass killers (going after the young and healthy, not the old and newborn), resistant strains of TV, and HIV-AIDS (still evolving and new strains are unresponsive to treatment by current drug cocktails). If we can’t find ways to combat these micbrobes quickly enough, ta-ta troops!

      • Moby

        Ha-ha. Meant tuberculosis, not Fox News.

        • Ellen Dibble

          OMG, you were thinking of Fox News simultaneously with me. That’s what ESP is all about.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Moby, I do recognize typos when I see them.
        But “resistant strains of TV”?
        LOL LOL. Would that be like the deniers who drink up whatever Fox News dishes out?

    • dana

      No predators. are you crazy. Man vs Man. How many millions killed due to atrocities and war in the last century. We’ll cull the herd. Don’t you worry about that.

  • Cindy Steine

    Are you taking into consideration the increase in human population in about 200 years? What impact that would have on inhabitable land for any species? What is the projected population and what is the effect on your scenario?

  • John

    Talking about a 100,000 year time frame is ludicrous, we will have mastered geoengineering long before then, not to mention many other technologies that we cannot possibly imagine in 2011.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Bingo. But is it “we” or “they”?
      Methinks it is mostly “they.”

  • AJ Averett

    An excellent – and still very relevant – documentary on those who continue to assert that global climate change as a function of human activity is a fiction, indeed a fraud, was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s television series “The Fifth Estate;” titled “The Denial Machine,” it originally aired 15 November, 2006 and was updated and rebroadcast 24 October, 2007.

    The full program plus additional resources are at the website; search for: CBC FIFTH ESTATE THE DENIAL MACHINE.

    The program runs 41 minutes, and should be viewed by everyone interested in this issue.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I missed a bit. Did we hear WHY the climate starts to cool after 200 years? I’ve got to buy this book. The ethics, it seems to me, at a stretch, is what from today through the pre-super-heated future do we want to be sure survives into what follows.

  • Moby

    What about microbes–how are they affected by increasing COs levels? Rusts (blights) and molds affecting plant-life, viruses and new bacterial life-forms obliterating mammals, vertebrates, other animalrs?

    Tom, Please ask your guest to discuss the Gaia hypothesis and how it relates to current thought on the future of life evolved beyond the microbial level.

  • Ellen Dibble

    What about anti-houses, 200-year preservation zoos of the coolling variety, counter-greenhouses, chill-houses, to allow us to reintroduce species after that oven effect passes?

  • charles from cambridge

    Mr. Stager, although I’m not immediately concerned for myself, my children or my grandchildren, where should I advise my long-off progeny to locate on the planet?

    • Ellen Dibble

      Hey, Charles, I’m thinking in terms of climate, northern Canada might be good. But then again, if there is massive relocation/immigration/emigration, it might be a good idea to locate in the LEAST advisable corner of the globe. Competition/war might make territories a lot less inviting than specifically the climate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/blackdogsailing Scott Thomas

    Was thinking about the ethical question of continued nuclear power generation and its long term waste issues. 10,000 years from now the humans inhabiting the planet will still have to deal with our waste piles.

  • Philip

    Hey, sweet! Bill McKibben! You rock!

  • Robot

    Worried for the Country…. PLEASE stop with the Climate Gate nonsense! There is no Climate Gate!

    You cannot discredit thousands of legitamte emails, peer reviewed papers, decades of research, evidence and global scientific consensus based upon a few emails that show poor judgement and poorly executed science.

    If I have to put forth skepticism regarding anything (not toward climate change), it is toward your motives for constantly posting on this board the link to Richard Muller railing against climate scientists and climate change. (Muller himself is discredited in many scientific cirlces, just google his name).

    This one Berkely physics professor does not invalidate the work of the entire global scientific community with his discussion of one bogus graph.

    • Philip

      Nevermind that there have been multiple independent investigations, none of which found any evidence of wrongdoing… just a bad attitude, obviously born out of frustration with – you guessed it – denialists.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Can you spell White Wash?
        These were not independent investigations.

  • john hutchinson

    recently deceased Stanley Owlsley believed the coming ice age is imminent resulting from “super-cyclones” brought on by global warming which will bring it on quickly, suddenly not in thousands of years. How woolly mammoths quick-freeze in seconds? What could account for sudden radical climate changes???

  • JB

    Does our increasing ability to defeat disease and improve human life through genetic manipulation mean that humans 100,000 years from will not be subject to evolutionary forces? In other words, how different will homo sapiens be by then?

    • Ellen Dibble

      You might have a new, genetically altered species, alongside a few survivors of original homo sapiens from maybe the Outback, who survived by chance or escape, rather than surviving by being able to afford genetic maintenance (the superclass who outwit the challenges of the competition for food and so on). And then the genetically altered might go the way of the dinosaurs after another eon because human beings cannot outwit nature in genetic adaptation and are likely to overlook this or that.

    • FreeInfo

      You may have two distinct species: one of which is composed of those who could afford retroviral genetic modifications and any replacement parts they need, and everyone else who they will have dumbed down to the point that they no longer can interfere with the designs of the gods.

      • Ellen Dibble

        “The gods” here being the uber-rich. But there may be designs of nature that outflank the plans of mere mortal scientists. One day this show-down between nature and “nurture” (genetic engineering) may actually take place.

  • Ellen Dibble

    To McKibben’s last horror at opening up so much new coal mining in the USA. I totally agree.
    BUT wouldn’t someone else (Russia?) supply the coal (or natural gas or something else) if we don’t do so?
    To turn that around, the true cost of carbon-based energy would have to be realized, in all global prices.

  • QuestionBull

    Again Obama shows who owns him, in regard to the issue of energy and global warming. He is just another pig feeding at the magic money machine of Wall Street who is eating as much as he can before he dies.

    • Ellen Dibble

      He is also trying to avert economic collapse by spikes in energy costs, or even rises of a few dimes a gallon. Why? Because a lot of his platform seems to be waiting for Term II, which is, revising the entitlements and other major aspects of the budget. Reducing the debt, in other words, balancing the budget, in other words. How to get re-elected? Focus on current jobs and taxable income (jobs).

  • Ed

    The world still belongs to God, and I don’t see him ultimately allowing it to be destroyed by us, even if we are irresponsible.

    • Ellen Dibble

      He would destroy the humanly habitable world using us as His implement. Case in point? Noah. He already tried it. And likely is about to do it again, if you want a mythic storyline.

    • HereWeGoAgain

      Is stead of the word “God” I suggest you substitute the phrase “my ignorance” because that is really what you are referring to.

      • Cal

        I would bet that Ed doesn’t have a clue as to were the word “god” originated, despite his frequent use of it, in order to give his opinions undeserved authority. The word god originated in proto Indo European and originally was just a sound that was a cry of anguish.

        • Ellen Dibble

          So worship of God is like the Stockholm syndrome, siding with the enemy in order to get some kind of benefit?

          • at

            Probably more like a cry to one’s momma for help

          • Ellen Dibble

            And religion would reveal itself as a unified human stance vis-a-vis our helplessness — ehich is helpful when we are actually helpless.
            However, “when I became a man I put away childish things,” and began to take responsibility. Religion doesn’t forbid us to grow up, and isn’t, to my view, totally overthrown to discover a reapportionment of our abilities and our disabilities.
            To say that the climate depredations are due to human irresponsibility is one way of saying it. You might say it is due to human REsponsibility, and therefore goes beyond the realm of religion and helplessness. In fact, to listen to today’s program, we can maybe seize back human control where we otherwise would have been helpless, which is to say, ice ages eons hence can be seen as answerable to our science and to our, um, “way of life.”

          • at

            There is what we can do. There is what various people think we should do. There is what we will do. There is what will happen if we don’t do. I think that only one of these factors has been pretty much scientifically determined. I bet you know which one.

          • fredlinskip

            If god wants the world hot, he’ll make it hot, just like He wanted that hurricane in New Orleans.

          • Madaabracadabra

            @fredlinkip. Wow. What century are you from? How do you know what God wants or doesn’t want? How do you even know God is a male? Let me propose this. When your wife dies of cancer next year, how eager will you be to say “It was God’s will?” Opinions are not facts no matter how vehemently you express them. Clearly, you have no substantive evidence to prove your statement. Let me remind you we are discussing lives here, trillions of them, humans, animals, and plants. If you don’t have compassion and reverence for life on this planet get out!

          • fredlinskip

            God works in mysterious ways- we can’t know His/Her mind.
            Earth was created for man’s benefit. Some species will perish. If they didn’t we’d still be living with dinosaurs.
            Read the bible- there’s a bright future for you (him/her).

          • Joshfmason

            All of the Earth’s religions speak of an ethical responsibility to care for the natural world. In Buddhism, the tenets of reincarnation samsara and karma, and the acceptance of plants and animals into these modes of salvation lend value to all life, human or otherwise. Man must not harm the plants and animals of the Earth as they, too, are on a karmic journey.

            Often referred to as the world’s oldest surviving faith, Hinduism also places great emphasis on care of nature as in the ancient Hindu dictum: “The earth is our mother, and we are all her children.”
            And, here in the US, we are well acquainted with the Native American tradition and interrelationship between Spirit and care of nature. Indeed, when writing to President Franklin Pierce in 1855, in response to an offer to purchase native land, Chief Seattle eloquently demonstrated the conviction of most Native groups by saying, in part, “The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.”

            General thought has been that eastern and native cultures place emphasis on conservation and protection while monotheistic traditions have not. The truth is not that black and white.
            In Islam the Prophet Mohammed said, “The world is green and beautiful and God has appointed you His stewards over it.” Drawing from the Qur’an, the first Muslim caliph, Abu-Baker, declared, “Do not cut down a tree…and be always kind and humane to God’s creations…” In Islam, man has been granted stewardship, but nature belongs to God.

            Because of misinterpretation of Bible texts and the creation story of Genesis, many Christians have presumed that man is superior to animals and nature, and altogether separate. However, in the Christian tradition, as in Islam, men are stewards of nature. Therefore, Christians are charged with protecting nature as trustees of the Creator. Beyond this, other areas of Biblical text point to the interconnectedness of nature and man, in a way that almost reflects eastern or modern environmental thought. In Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, Verse 19, it is said, “For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same, as one dies so dies the other…man has no advantage over the beasts…”

            So, we can safely assume from the above (albeit not an all-inclusive list of the world’s religions) that historically faiths have mandated care of Earth in accordance with care of Spirit.

            The Earth and its inhabitants (animals & plants) have been more than generous throughout history by providing mankind with an abundance of resources to survive and flourish. Today the urgent and unsustainable state that much of the Earth’s inhabitants face is not a reflection of their generosity. On the contrary, it is a reflection of mankind’s relentless greed, exploitation and lack of empathy for life outside of his immediate circle. The Earth and its inhabitants have provided everything necessary for our success, yet what do give in return? Very little. Until God destroys the Earth (your belief not mine) or until our individual time here has expired, we should uphold what was asked of us. At the present time, we’re severely failing to uphold this responsibility.

    • Renee

      “God” put US here to take care of the Earth as we choose, if we choose to destroy it then that’s what will happen.

    • Tracy

      Ah yes, the God defense. The ULTIMATE cop-out of responsibility.

  • Ed

    The world still belongs to God, and I don’t see him ultimately allowing it to be destroyed by us, even if we are irresponsible.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

    I don’t label Watts a skeptic. I label him a denier. He cherry picks the evidence. That’s not science. He has links to “real” science? Does “real” science link back to him?

    Google search “debunking anthony watts”: http://xrl.in/8bw2

    And from RealClimate.Org: http://xrl.in/8bw5

  • Markus

    I didn’t hear the show today but read the overview and comments.

    Those who predict climate have such a bleak view of the future and of the possibility that there’s anything we can do about it, that it gives people no where to go other than to question the scientists. And, what’s really sad, is the scientists may be right – what anyone does is a drop in the bucket compared to the weekly power plants that go up in China, or the additional cars in India, etc. etc. And who’s to criticize people who want what the US already has.

    I believe it’s warming slowly and that people are a driver. But I also know the effect of money and the group think that occurs in research groups. The Y2K scam is a wonderful example of what happens when economic interest dovetails with a hype machine. So, I’m a believer, but very suspicious.

    And I rarely hear of any solutions other than conservation (recycling, using less, alternative fuels, etc.) which seems to have become a religion all its own. We should be much more aggressive with conservation, but I’ve heard that even under the rosiest of scenarios, this won’t make much difference. I’m amazed there’s so little attention paid to actions, sometimes called terraforming, that could complement conservation. Yes, they’re pretty radical, but we have some time here.

  • Tim

    Where is the audio for this show?

    • Tim

      Seriously though, where is the audio?

      • Ellen Dibble

        Whoever’s watching the shop, also the OnPoint page, once you get past the main opening page for OnPoint, there is only the Japan show displayed, and you wouldn’t know there is a second hour without reloading the main OnPoint page. It’s been like that all day.

        • Tim

          Apparently Tom needs to brush up on his computer skills…

          • Tim

            haha, note to self: questioning Tom’s computer skills makes things happen on On Point

  • Modavations

    Did I hear the host say from the time of Pericles,5000 yrs ago.That’s not verbatim.I think Pericles was around 400BC

    • Ellen Dibble

      I heard that too. He was comparing say the time of Pericles say 5,000 years ago compared to looking forward 100,000 years, to point out the difficulty of grasping the time frame comparison.
      If he had said 2,500 he would be closer, but I guess he was 100 years off a rounding error. 600 BC would be closer to 5,000 years ago, if you’re talking in blocks of 5,000.

      • Modavations

        Right on lady.The whole topic was absurd.Modern man is 90,000 years old and Ur was 6000BC(beautiful gold jewelry).Run from the Public schools!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Brian

    Great show and discussion of one of the most important issues of our time. Could you please post Prof. Stager’s graph that was referenced, projecting earth’s temperature for the next 100,000 years? I would love to see that.

  • Dana F.

    let’s face the facts and get to the point. Man will have destroyed themselves by the time any of this comes into play.

  • twenty-niner
    • twenty-niner

      Apparently, what’s really inconvenient is getting a hotel room when you’re traveling the country.

    • Dana F.

      Al, the big dog. He didn’t get his Library and Legend status when he lost on on the presidentcy right. So he does the next best thing…. Saves the planet. He’s needs those mansions for his masseuse’s. Give the dude a break.

      • twenty-niner

        Yes, and I imagine a Peace Prize deserves its own house.

  • squarooticus

    As far as I am concerned, anyone who uses the word “denialist” or “denier” to describe skeptics is a troll whose purpose must be to get skeptics to stop listening. Calling people names is *not* an argument.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Squariticus, are you a square root denier? That is to say, do you deny that the square root of 16 is 4? Does one call such attitudes skepticism or obnoxiousness. Dinosaurism. There is a time to stop beating a dead horse.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        “scientific (and social/political) potential to find out all the ramifications”
        “But saying it isn’t an issue, if that’s what is meant by skepticism, or “denier,” they are not helping to solve the problem.”

        Now you’ve hit the nub of it. Problem? Most ‘skeptics’ will recognize that acknowledge there has been slow warming (.4C) in the last century and that CO2 levels have doubled.

        Is that a problem? No one thinks so. The so called consensus is we will soon enter an positive feedback look that will further increase temperatures and this is caused by the CO2.

        There is no direct evidence of this. None of the models have been shown to be predictive over time.

        Further, is warming bad? In the context of today’s show, we should be able to agree that cooling is worse than warming.

        Is CO2 causing the warming? Even though everyone agrees it is greenhouse gas, there is much debate on the % of warming due to CO2.

        Even if we agree that CO2 is causing the warming AND the warming needs to be reversed it is not clear anything can be done to undo what has been done. There is universal agreement that the US can do nothing. All growth in the future will come from China, India and the developing world.

        This is immature science. Let keep studying it. Let keep working on cheaper, safer alternatives for energy. Conserve? Yes. Eventually we’ll find solutions that meet our energy security needs that don’t release CO2 and this issue will be moot. This solution has to be cheap because we will want it deployed in the developing world to have an impact.

        Finally, lets hope we don’t have to worry about a 2 mile thick ice sheet. :)

        • Ellen Dibble

          You don’t think scientists think climate change could be projected to be a problem? “Nobody”????
          Actually, you seem pretty well informed. The issue is similar to some abortion arguments. If you can project the child has a 99% chance of being born with two heads and dying during delivery do you let it happen, possibly risking the mother’s life? Is this a problem? It could be. It might not.
          But the consequences of the likely eventualities, coupled with real possibilities of facing those eventualities and forestalling lots of them, those are the things that make it the business of paleoecologists.
          People who don’t want to address the matter don’t have to. There are plenty of people on the planet who can and will, or at least I hope so. Just as I can’t look at movies with a lot of violence, some probably can’t look at scenarios like sea levels wiping out islands and cities. Fine. But don’t get in my way when I try to face it on their behalf.
          It is a positive sign that we have made some progress in the last 30 years in this direction.

        • Robot

          This is fascinating and very interesting to me and I am going to go way out on a limb and risk being outright offensive and pose a theory that worried for the country is on the payroll of the petro chemical industry, because I a cannot come up with any reasonable explantion for worried for the countries weekly/ daily posting and re-posting of the now infamous climate denier link (Richard Muller), and literally the same lengthy text that WFTC posted last week regarding climate change.

          You acknowledge climate science, but continue to try to discredit the science with the same thin, weak arguments with “climate- gate as your main source of evidence… where there is no evidence of anything that remotely contradicts or negates decades and oceans of research regarding climate change!

          Your “arguments really look and smell like propaganda at this point.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Nice theory. Do you think Exxon would be willing to pay me?

            I’m glad you noticed and I’m glad that I was at least consistent.

            I care deeply about our national energy security. I also care deeply about the environment. I drive a hybrid.

            Richard Muller is not a climate denier. He is a popular physics professor at Berkeley. He is also a climate researcher and has published in peer review journals. He has stated publicly that he thinks man made global warming exists and he is concerned.
            I think you’ll have a different view of Muller if you watch the full Muller presentation (not just the 5 minutes on climategate).

            However, he also is very disturbed at the improper scientific method exposed in climategate. He simply wants to get it right. He is doing climate science a service by calling out the bad eggs. He thinks this is so important he started the BEST project to track accurate temperature monitoring worldwide.

            I happen to agree with what he is doing.

            Personally, I’m not convinced the science is mature enough to accurately calculate the risks of climate change. I certainly don’t want our society to spend oodles of dough on something we don’t understand. Yes, ‘cap and trade’ is a scam and money grab. It doesn’t really matter what I think but I believe my view is shared by a large percentage of the population.

            Here is the good news. I think there is common ground. We can solve our energy security problems AND reduce our CO2 output. The key is we need to make it cheap enough for China and India to adopt since that is where the growth is. The short term solutions are to improve conservation, expand CO2 vehicles, and expand nuclear. I like what Chu is doing with ARPA-E. He is investing in research for big breakthroughs in solar (with goal of <$1/W installed) and battery technologies for cars. We are missing research for thorium LFTR reactors which have many advantages over the current LWR technologies. With a concerted effort we could have a pilot LFTR in 5 years and commercial units in 10.

            How is this propaganda? There really is no hidden agenda.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      The extreme climate alarmists are not interested in debate. Any threat to their religion is met with scorn and ridicule.

      How about ‘flat earther’? That’s a popular one.

      • Ellen Dibble

        So I guess extreme climate alarmists should hole up with Al Qaeda in the Hindu Kush, being antithetical to the modern world and all it has brought us.

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          I guess I shouldn’t paint with a broad brush but many do have a tendency to call names and shut down debate.

    • Anonymous

      Do you think that plate tectonics is an accepted scientific fact? Is Pangaea a fact? What about how DNA works? Or the structure of an atom? Are the scientists making that all up, too?



  • Worried for the country(MA)

    Don’t believe in corruption of science in climate gate?

    It’s not just the nasty emails that embarrassed the scientists. The actual data used in the published articles was also released by the whistle blower.

    The famous ‘hide the decline’ was deleting the tree ring data post 1960 that showed declining temperature proxies and paste in other temperature data while leaving the impression the data was from the same source. Cherry picking data violates scientific method.

    They have now discovered another distortion in the same data set. The data prior to year 1550 is programmatically truncated. Again, cherry picking data.


    • Anonymous

      No data was changed, and there is overwhelming data from many, many sources that fit with anthropogenic global climate change.

      Did you know that the isotopes in the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere pinpoints it as having come from fossil fuels? There is direct chemical evidence that much of the carbon dioxide in the air came from coal and oil.


      • Worried for the country(MA)

        I’ve never heard anyone dispute the bulk of the CO2 comes from man burning fossil fuels. What’s your point?

        Proper scientific method would not conflate tree ring data with temperature data in the same graph without clearly labeling what they are doing. “Hide the decline” Sorry they were caught and are being called out by the scientific community.


        • Anonymous

          You are missing the main point — there is no one area that is key yo anthropogenic global climate change. All the data, and all the science is conclusive.

          I am not a climate scientist. But I know how all of science works. And your arguments have been answered and tested by the scientists. Their conclusion is based on all the data, and anthropogenic global climate change is the reality.

          The warming is very rapid, and the effects will be wide spread.

          We humans simply must change our energy use over to renewables as quickly as possible. Oil is finite, and it is running out. Coal is finite and it is running out. Gas is finite and it is running out. All of these are also causing our shared world to change very rapidly.

          Nuclear power is NOT carbon free — uranium must be mined, transported, refined, processed into rods. Each of these steps uses a lot of energy that has to come from somewhere!

          The rods are then only useful for 3-6 years, and then must be kept in wet storage for about 10 years. Then it has to be moved to so-called dry cask storage. Then it must be buried at least 1,000 feet below ground (fuel is used to dig that!) and then it must remain safe from terrorists for TENS OF THOUSANDS of YEARS.

          Hmmm. In the sixty years that we have had nuclear power, we have not solved the nuclear storage problem. Hmmm.

          Electricity from renewable energy is infinite, for all intents and purposes. There is no fuel. There is very little pollution. There is no catastrophic failure: no spills, so explosions, no collapses, no poisons, no radiation. Renewable energy is all over the place, in many forms, and no one person or company can control it.


          Sincerely, Neil

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            I appreciate the case you make on AGW but I have to disagree.
            The science is simply not settled. I think you’ve been sucked in by the pop science group think.

            Regarding energy, there is much we can agree on. I am an all of the above guy. I am rooting for the success of renewables. The major thing holding renewables back is cost.

            The CO2 consumed for U mining is insignificant relative to the energy produced. Production of renewables (windmills, Li-ion batteries, solar cells) consume just as much CO2. Further most renewables rely on rare earth elements. Those are mined as well.

            Your attack on nuclear energy sounds like anti-nuclear talking point misinformation. There are solutions to the nuclear waste problem. To put things in perspective, the entire volume of all waste that produced terawatts of electricity for US consumers and business over the past 50 years will fit in a single Best Buy. Its an issue but not a big issue. Also, 95% of the energy remains in the spent fuel. This needs to be ‘burned’ in new plants to reduce the volume further. This will also reduce the need for new uranium mining.

            Enjoy your day!

          • Anonymous

            The science is settled around anthropogenic global climate change; and all the new data is pointing to accelerated change, at least as much as the worst case scenarios from just a few years ago.

            The science around plate tectonics is settled, and much of the data for it is “newer” than AGCC. Same goes for DNA — are the scientists making up this science, too?

            I’m not “attacking” nuclear power. I’m listing facts about it. Nuclear power is not sustainable — plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years, and it takes at least four half-lifes for it to be remotely safe to be around. That’s 100,000 years — which is at least 5X longer than recorded human history!

            Plutonium is also extremely poisonous — similar to botulism.

            No thanks.

            Why would we think that continuing to make more nuclear waste when we have NO REAL SOLUTION for storing it?

            We have lots of renewable energy sources:

            Wind power — with widely distributed turbines, they provide constant and predictable energy 24/7/365. Both coal and nuclear power plants need to be shut down for maintenance and refueling.

            Solar photovoltaic.

            Solar heat.

            Wave power — there are at least two types of these already in service.

            Tidal power — as long as the moon orbits the earth, we will have tides.

            Geothermal — we can drill to use this in many areas, and certainly where it is already close to the surface.

            Biomass — plant and animal waste can be used to make methane, alcohol, and diesel. Also we can grow plants like jatropha ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jatropha ) in marginal land so it doesn’t compete with food crops.

            We also need to change our farming methods — currently we are almost literally eating oil and gas. We need to return to farming as it should be — the dirt does a huge amount of “work” and we are completely dependent on it. We are poisoning ourselves and killing the dirt, and using up the fossil water all at the same time. We have farmed organically for about 20,000 years, and the soil gets healthier and healthier — but for the last 60-70 years we have used more and more chemicals and oil and gas to mine the soil; which kills the natural processes, and uses up the water from deep underground. It is simply unsustainable, and is already ruining our shared Eaarth.

            Also, the water-soluble nitrogen we use not only causes dead-zones in places like the Gulf of Mexico, but also contributes to global climate change. The nitrogen combines with oxygen forming nitrous oxide, and this is major greenhouse gas.

            Organically formed nitrogen (from compost or methane digesters) is “fixed” — it does not dissolve in water, and does not run off in the first rain. The chemical fertilizer we make from natural gas loses ~80% of the nitrogen in the first rain.

            No thanks.

            Am I a fool? Am I a dupe?

            We are all in this together, and we cannot ignore the facts — and we cannot continue to do unsustainable things. We are totally dependent on the Earth, we are of the Earth, and all life forms are interdependent.


            Sincerely, Neil

          • http://profiles.google.com/jc.swayzee Michael J. Richard

            Actually, Neil, nuclear power doesn’t have to include uranium mining and long-term radioactive waste storage.

            Frontline interview with Dr. Richard Till: http://xrl.in/7hcr

            Science Council for Global Initiatives: http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/

          • Anonymous

            That may be, but renewable energy is here and now, and will be with us as long as the Earth exists.

            Breeder reactors have been promised, and still have not been proven. It cannot be self-perpetuating — that would break the laws of physics. There is no free lunch.

            The sun is a fusion reactor, and it is a (relatively) safe distance. Why recreate it?


          • Ellen Dibble

            Neil, I’m hoping we’ll get a direct show on the creation of a national grid that can take energy from each house, which I think will bring out the inner entrepreneur in every individual. Thinking five years ahead, my solar, geothermal, wind, whatever, will be creating my own source of income. We’ll start conserving in order to sell more.
            The Google money-bags were going to bankroll this a few years back (in league with Bush II, back then), and it is infrastructure that has to be potentiated in order to get our money-greed one-by-one to work FOR us, rather than against us. It seems you are pretty new here, but I welcome your voice, and hope you can help figure out where we go from here, wherever you are discussing.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            That is a great vision.
            PV prices have been declining rapidly the last few years but residential installation has not. Hopefully there will be a breakthrough on installation.

          • Ellen Dibble

            In terms of new construction, I have been urging that apartment houses be
            put up with this sort of design, where say a dozen residents are
            contributing and benefitting, pooling the cost, as organized by the
            landlords. However, the nation has been pushing co-housing, condos, and
            subsidized (“affordable”) housing in the last several decades, and to the
            extent apartments go up, they are for (wealthy) senior citizens, or at a
            stretch, people in assorted graduate schools. In any case, new dorms here
            have gone up with geothermal energy, but so far cannot send out extra
            energy, that I have noticed. Those designing in-fill housing like this in
            cities are maybe “hanging fire,” precisely waiting to see what sorts of
            energy design will be optimal. Here’s hoping. The cost of installation
            seems to be rising with ever more inspections as to energy efficiency being
            required, actually.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            This concept (in Canada no less) is to have community storage of solar thermal. Store the energy year round and use it in the winter.
            Not sure of the economics but it is probably feasible when designed in.
            I’ve seen some University projects in the states doing something similar.


          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Yes, the IFR was killed by Clinton and John Kerry in the 90s. Criminal.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Pu is a byproduct of the once through fuel cycle in current generation plants. The Pu is fuel for the next generation plants and can be completely destroyed while ‘burned’ as fuel in these plants. So long to the 10K year issue. One of the best transition technologies is to molten salt thorium reactors (LFTR). This provides a dramatic improvement on safety, proliferation risk and waste. All carbon free (thorium is a waste product of rare earth element mining).

            Even if the US eliminated ALL CO2 emissions, India, China and the developing world will continue to grow their emissions. None of the ‘green’ option you mention are cheaper than coal [not even close]. You need to be able to provide the developing world an alternative that is cheaper than coal IF you want them to adopt the alternatives.

            You should do more research on wind. No serious energy expert looks at wind as a base load energy source. You need to be able to distribute that energy cost effectively. Even if you had a universal grid you would still be required to store massive amounts of energy.

            The improvement trajectory for PV looks interesting but there are still storage issues.

            All of the above as long as the price is right.

            Please provide a source for the ‘accelerated change’. Phil Jones, the director of the East Anglia CRU, admitted this year that there’s been no global warming since 1995.

            None of the models predicted this. No the science isn’t settled.

            Its funny, when events don’t match the models the climate scientists get all a tither. It appears they are rooting for climate calamity and are disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Doesn’t that behavior concern you?

          • Anonymous

            Energy storage is not a problem: there are at least two methods available. One is elevated hydro plants; these exist in this country (USA) and in Germany. and probably in other places. When there is excess power from solar or wind or waves, etc. then water is pumped up to the reservoir. When more power is needed than what is being generated at that moment, water is then used to spin turbines to generate additional baseload.

            The same can be done with underground compressed air. And once we get a few million electric cars on the road, their batteries can collectively provide a buffer cache of power.

            Germany is already doing what we all need to do, with renewable energy.

            Mr. Jones is probably been taken out of context. One person cannot negate the whole field of science. Please watch the congressional testimony in particular by Mr. Richard Alley and others:


            The science is settled, and if you think otherwise, then you are out of step with the scientists who study it. Extraordinary claims like throwing away the science on this, requires extraordinary proof.


          • Worried for the country(MA)

            I hate to be a buzz kill but your storage proposals ignore cost and scale. Visual this: you are now creating an artificial Hoover dam for every 10 coal plants you are replacing; just to back up your acres of windmills.

            Think China. They won’t do anything that doesn’t make economic sense. Here (and in Germany) we have enough embedded wealth to throw large $$$$ at uneconomic solutions. Unfortunately, our $$$$ printing press has now run out of ink.

          • Anonymous

            You may not be appreciating how steady the production is from a geographically distributed wind power array — in Germany, where they are already getting ~15%+ of their power from renewable sources has it set up like this:


            A large wind array has a constant output that is 33-45% of the total maximum capacity. So if you install 2-3X the maximum that you need, then you will get close to what you need all t he time. Add solar or some other base load generation like wave power — and add biogas (methane from digesters) to provide peak load; and with a couple of elevated reservoir hydro power plants, and you are good to go.


          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Neil, Parts of Europe are having difficulties with excess wind capacity and then managing shortages down times.

            Taking an expensive form of energy and then multiplying the capacity 2-3X + storage costs will break the bank.

            It appears you don’t believe cheap energy is important for modern society to thrive.

          • Anonymous

            We will learn as we go — let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Sure, we need to invest in a restructuring of our energy infrastructure.

            How long do you think we should keep using as much oil as we can find? At what price — money and environment, do you think we should slow down our consumption of oil? We are heavily subsidizing oil, with blood and treasure, and in my opinion, we need to be conservative with our earth’s resources.

            It took the earth’s natural processes million and million and millions of years to form oil from the accumulation of lifeforms — each gallon of gasoline represents 92 TONS of biological material; and we have used more than HALF of the oil in about 150 years. A huge majority of it in just the last 25-30 years. How much should we leave for future generations; or should we try to use it all up as quickly as possible? And how much are you willing to pay to the oil companies?


          • Worried for the country(MA)

            It is interesting that you would link a cute video that conflates Richard Feynman and Bill Nye the science guy. Please!

            Richard Feynman is a hero of mine. Clearly one of the greatest scientists of all time. I’ve read much of his popular work and even watched his Cal Tech physics lectures.

            It is my fervent belief that Feynman would not consider climate science settled. He lectured throughout his career on what is proper scientific method. Enjoy:

            This brings to mind another great scientist who has weighed in on climate science. Freeman Dyson:


          • Anonymous

            Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan don’t make your list? How about E. O. Wilson, or Sir Richard Attenborough? The list of scientists who are deeply concerned with our earth and what we have done to it is a very long one. You *think* that Richard Feynman would agree with you? Really?

            Can you show us any data that has not already been integrated into the science, that would change the scientific conclusion of anthropogenic global climate change?


      • Worried for the country(MA)

        “there is overwhelming data from many, many sources that fit with anthropogenic global climate change.”

        I don’t think there is much dispute here but the global temperature rise over the last century is a mere .4C. The debate is on the “potential” positive feedback which could cause trouble down the road and do we we or can we do anything about it.

    • Pagodroma

      Again go for the facts and stop watching Fox:

      In the months that followed [the email leaks], there were several inquiries into the allegations resulting from the emails. When a few of the more suggestive email quotes are reeled off by pundits without much context, they can sound pretty damning. But each and every one of these inquiries has found no fraud and no conspiracy.

      The most comprehensive inquiry was the Independent Climate Change Email Review led by Sir Muir Russell, commissioned by UEA to examine the behaviour of the CRU scientists (but not the scientific validity of their work). It published its final report in July 2010. This inquiry was no whitewash: it examined the main allegations arising from the emails and their implications in meticulous detail. It focused on what the CRU scientists did, not what they said, investigating the evidence for and against each allegation. It interviewed CRU and UEA staff, and took 111 submissions including one from CRU itself. And it also did something the media completely failed to do: it attempted to put the actions of CRU scientists into context.

      The Review went back to primary sources to see if CRU really was hiding or falsifying their data. It considered how much CRU’s actions influenced the IPCC’s conclusions about temperatures during the past millennium. It commissioned a paper by Dr Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, on the context of scientific peer review. It asked IPCC Review Editors how much influence individuals could wield on writing groups. And it reviewed the university’s FoI processes and CRU’s compliance with them. Many of these are things any journalist could have done relatively easily, but few ever bothered to do.

      The Review also commented on the broader context of science in the 21st century. To paraphrase from Chapter 5: the emergence of the blogosphere requires significantly more openness from scientists. However, providing the details necessary to validate large datasets can be difficult and time-consuming, and how FoI laws apply to research is still an evolving area. Meanwhile, the public needs to understand that science cannot and does not produce absolutely precise answers. Though the uncertainties may become smaller and better constrained over time, uncertainty in science is a fact of life which policymakers have to deal with. The chapter concludes: “the Review would urge all scientists to learn to communicate their work in ways that the public can access and understand”.

      The Review points out the well-known psychological phenomenon that email is less formal than other forms of communication: “Extreme forms of language are frequently applied to quite normal situations by people who would never use it in other communication channels.” The CRU scientists assumed their emails to be private, so they used “slang, jargon and acronyms” which would have been more fully explained had they been talking to the public. And although some emails suggest CRU went out of their way to make life difficult for their critics, there are others which suggest they were bending over backwards to be honest. Therefore the Review found “the e-mails cannot always be relied upon as evidence of what actually occurred, nor indicative of actual behaviour that is extreme, exceptional or unprofessional.” [section 4.3]

      So when put into the proper context, what do these emails actually reveal about the behaviour of the CRU scientists? The report concluded (its emphasis):

      Climate science is a matter of such global importance, that the highest standards of honesty, rigour, and openness are needed in its conduct. On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.

      In addition, we do not find that their behaviour has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers. In particular, we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.

      But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA, who failed to recognize not only the significance of statutory requirements but also the risk to the reputation of the University and indeed, to the credibility of UK climate science. [1.3]

  • Modavations

    I’ll bet the scientists work with govt. grants.That makes them biased.When I hear “all scientist agree”I think of Copernicus and Gallileo and the “earth is the center of the cosmos’,etc,.They probably weren’t govt. hacks.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Governments are likely going to be the last ones to square themselves with the science of human effects on climate. Why? The capitalist system is awfully cozy with our gas-guzzling ways and the profits and taxes thus generated. I mean, capitalist democracy is awfully cozy. Think campaign funding, vote-getting, that sort of thing. It’s a little amazing that this sort of science got its head out of the sand, ostrich fashion, at all. It is that inconvenient a truth.

      • Modavations

        Don’t give me that leftist bull.These guys are “tranza”.They work for govt grants.The smugness of predicting 100,000 yrs in the future.The reason climate change ,computer modeling, never works, is that there are so many variables and half aren’t even visible.Gallileo and Copernicus were almost burnt at the stake,for having a contarian view(and a correct one).As for extinctions,go get Schusters guide to fossils.There’s millions of them.With Fracking and oil shale, there is 200 yrs of easy petroleum.We should have invaded Albeerta instead of Iraq.The oil from one deep water well, produces more juice then 2 states covered in silly windmills .In 50 years they’ll be beaming us up anyways.Too many Luddites out there!!!!

        • Madaabracadabra

          You should have been born in the middle ages. When the Earth, the Pope, kings, and mi-optic selfish troglodytes like you could not perceive other life outside of the center of the universe.

    • Anonymous

      What about the motivation of the oil companies — don’t you think their profits are *far* more involved in the anti-science? Are the scientists making up any other things like plate tectonics, or atomic theory, or relativity?


      • Boston mom

        Galileo was going to get his head cut off because he took a stand against the status quo, with both church and state. Believing information from the wealthiest 2% of the nation might be akin to putting actual scientists’ heads on the block.

        • Anonymous

          Right — what is the radical new scientific idea, and what is the status quo?


          • Boston mom

            Sadly it seems the “radical” scientific idea is the idea rooted in actual science, while the status quo is rhetoric-based faux information distributed to benefit the few, instead of the many. At least, that’s how it appears to me.

  • Mary

    Fascinating conversation on the part of all three participants. Would like to hear more scientists on the program.

  • Modavations

    Same govt.scientists were predicting Global Winter 30 yrs ago and for the same reason.See cover of Time MAGAZINE 1977(?)

    • Pagodroma

      Just some facts:

      “In the thirty years leading up to the 1970s, available temperature recordings suggested that there was a cooling trend. As a result some scientists suggested that the current inter-glacial period could rapidly draw to a close, which might result in the Earth plunging into a new ice age over the next few centuries. This idea could have been reinforced by the knowledge that the smog that climatologists call ‘aerosols’ – emitted by human activities into the atmosphere – also caused cooling. In fact, as temperature recording has improved in coverage, it’s become apparent that the cooling trend was most pronounced in northern land areas and that global temperature trends were in fact relatively steady during the period prior to 1970.

      At the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might be facing another ice age, a greater number published contradicting studies. Their papers showed that the growing amount of greenhouse gasses that humans were putting into the atmosphere would cause much greater warming – warming that would a much greater influence on global temperature than any possible natural or human-caused cooling effects.

      By 1980 the predictions about ice ages had ceased, due to the overwhelming evidence contained in an increasing number of reports that warned of global warming. Unfortunately, the small number of predictions of an ice age appeared to be much more interesting than those of global warming, so it was those sensational ‘Ice Age’ stories in the press that so many people tend to remember.”

  • Boston mom

    Too many trolls. Too bad, this is a valid conversation.

  • Antagognostic

    This one’s for Tom and Crew…I couldn’t help but notice that your guest, while knowledgeable concerning 100,000 years from now, wasn’t really able to – or willing to – (It’s that scientist ‘don’t want to say things I can’t 100% prove’ thing.) give you any punchy answers to many of your questions. It all seemed to be about the spike-drop-curve he’d predicted.

    So I have a suggestion. The guy you need is Gwynne Dyer. His latest book is “Climate Wars” (which is still only in hardcover) and the man has some strong things to say to people. He’s smart, acerbic, has a military background and sources, and has been thinking about this subject for some time.

    Check out the following link to YouTube to see one of his lectures.


    This guy will give you and your listeners something to think about.

    • Ataraxia

      Thanks very much for the link! He presents an on-the-ground view of what polities are actually discussing about the coming food and clean water shortages: and the resultant migrations that will inevitably occur. The thing that is rarely discussed, but which the Club of Rome environmental economists and demographers tried to state years ago: EVEN IF ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE IS A SHAM, WE’RE **STILL** SCREWED, namely because of 1. the rate of extraction of non-renewable natural resources (water, land, fossil fuels) and 2. the accelerating pollution of the same as the population grows and as 3. consumption rates rise with continuing industrialization of the developing world. Even if we take into account the fact that the free-trade Neoliberal model of globalization is increasing disparity within and between countries, making a very few rich and the majority very poor, consumption rates are still set to rise beyond our capacity. The only way to solve this mess is to implement population controls across the world: this of course will not occur, so many billions will be doomed. However, a wealthy remnant will survive in their technologically hyper-advanced cocoon. These scum will unfortunately serve as Noah’s sons, from whom the remaining progeny of humanity’s tenure will stem.

  • Phil, in St. Louis, MO

    I recognize that I also would not want to be around in 100 years to see what has happened to the nature that I love. I can only feel sorry for that future human alive at a time of environmental disaster and a world of ever diminishing diversity. We as a species evolved with nature that will be unable to change rapidly enough to remain. Yes, some people may fight through the changes but I’m certain I wouldn’t want to know them. I’m already looking around, sitting at a traffic light, surrounded by the biggest, heaviest, fastest machines dollars can buy, manned by people who can’t see any further into the future than the next stop light they race toward. Your guests can talk until they’re voices give out but the average, ‘modern’ man is no longer fit to sit on top of the species pyramid. Lately, I feel ashamed of this species we call Homo sapiens.

  • Georgecattermole

    Where is there peer reviewed evidence for the claim:
    “If we simply burn enough fossil fuels, we’ll warm the atmosphere enough to delay that icy disaster for thousands of years.” ?

    While it may be true that burning fossil fuels can delay the next ice age, I have found no evidence that doing so will buck the “natural cycle”, stave off the next inevitable ice age and give us “THOUSANDS” of years of anthropogenic conditioned warmth. But there is plenty of evidence that burning fossil fuels at the current rate will bring about rising sea-levels, species extinction and other disasters within a HUNDRED years.
    There is only a finite amount of fossil fuel. We should conserve it so it can be shared with future generations. The sun and wind will be with us for MILLIONS of years and it makes moral sense to capture the abundant energy they provide and use it to maintain the status quo and, should the ice begin to form, use both renewable and fossil fuels to keep us warm. This we will probably not do because greed is infinite and nature is finite. George Cattermole

  • Tim Truett

    Tom asked how ethics could apply 100,000 years in the future. Here’s how: ask if our actions now will result in feelings of gratitude from the people in our future.

    Any conundrum about ethics for the future is the result of an ego-centric viewpoint. An ego-centric viewpoint is a kind of illusion; it’s a trap.

    Applying ethics to people who will live in the future is easy if you simply abandon the ego-centric (self-centered) point of view.

    People used to think that the Earth was the center of the universe. It seemed that way, but it was not so. The geo-centric (earth-centered) cosmology has been discarded because it was wrong.

    Similarly, the ego-centric point of view is mistaken. I am not at the center of the physical universe. I am also not at the center of the mental universe.

    The mind is what the brain does. The brain is made of cells, molecules, atoms, etc.. The laws of physics that govern the interactions of the atoms, etc. are universal. That is, the laws apply in the same way everywhere, at any time.

    The result is that the mental states and processes that are instantiated in my brain are the same, or very similar, to the mental states and processes in any other human brain, located anywhere else, at any time, including 100,000 years in the future. It is those mental states and processes, those universal mental phenomena, that are the proper object of cherishing, in what ever mind they are instatiated, at whatever time (now or in the future), not the one instantiation of them that is one self.

    Stated another way, the happiness or suffering of the man living 100,000 years from now will be just as real as the happiness or suffering of the man living now.

    So if there are ethical considerations that apply to the happiness or suffering of people now, the same considerations apply for the future too. There is no difference between present and future.

    • Eeisnewell

      The current trends in global atmospheric warming are self reinforcing,
      and the megatons of methane being released from permafrost melting will make the rate of change even more dramatic.
      The illusion of separation, treasured by the ego, has enabled this situation:
      reversing it will not be easy,
      but if we do not do it,
      Earth may become a twin of Venus.

      As for God, look not outside yourself: you are evolving sentience,
      and learning your place.


  • fredlinskip

    If God wants the world hot, he’ll make it hot-
    just like He wanted that hurricane in New Orleans.

  • fredlinskip

    When the rapture comes, I plan to be on that boat- climate change or no.

  • roymerritt19@gmail.com

    A hundred thousand years into the future is beyond one’s comprehension, that’s ten thousand centuries. By then I suspect humans will have abandoned the planet for one of the many, we now know, planets within the universe that now have earth like planets, that revolve around their own sun. Our species will likely destroy these planets as we proceed through our history until eventually we will have depleted our options and meet our own deserved extinction.

    • SomeGuyNamedMark

      Don’t worry, it is unlikely we will ever find a way to travel (as human beings at least) to other stars.  Basic physics is against us on that.  This is going to be our only home so we ruin it at our own risk.

  • Fredlinskip

    Reply to Josh (and Madacradabra) (pardon spelling),
    That was a thoughtful reply.
    If majority of Americans were as informed as you, I would feel real hopeful about our chances of tackling global warming.
    Unfortunately 1) Gorr was defeated at a key point in world history that could have made a significant difference, and
    2) for all our supposed technological advance we are living in country where more than 1/2 of it’s residents don’t believe in evolution. What chance is there of people of science of convincing these folks of anything.
    My previous 2 comments were an attempt I guess to perhaps spark some debate about this particular issue and do not reflect my actual beliefs.
    It was probably not a responsible thing to do and wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t accept my sincere apologies.

  • Pingback: Will the real climate skeptic please stand up? | Climatide

  • Benharpo

    I am astonished that Curt and Tom thought the only way to get carbon dioxide out of the air is to dissolve it in the ocean. The best place to put carbon is into the soil. Within a decade it is possible to add over 100,000 lbs of carbon to every acre of arable land and grazing land through better management. This will not change the acidity of the ocean, and it will typically bring the soil pH closer to 7.

    • SomeGuyNamedMark

      Assuming it takes less carbon based energy to do this than you sequester.  That includes the energy required to make the equipment, transport, etc.

  • Quinner

    Every Intra-glacial Period of mild climate has ended with a
    short period of warmer climate just before the Ice Age hits. There seems to be
    a strong coloration between the duration and strength of this warm period and the
    duration and strength of the following Ice Age. If this coloration is accurate
    then this coming Ice Age will be epic among Ice Ages. So with the evidence that
    humans just barely survives the last Ice Age, then it follows that this coming epic
    Ice Age will extinguish the human race along with almost all life on Earth.

  • Babakbarany

    Hi Earth people,
    we can make the earth cooler and we can stop hurricans just enough we change the desert area of africa and middle east to jungle and we need new technology and 300 volunteers for this project so i am one of them and ready to work ,

    babak from iran ,

  • SomeGuyNamedMark

    Yes, let’s protect our precious way of life by making sure the equatorial regions of the earth are baked dry.

  • Pingback: Climate Change Series: The Geoengineering Debate | Cognoscenti

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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