Among Scientists, the Debate is Over, Man-Made Climate Change is Real - and Bad

Climatologists are finished with the debate over man-made climate change and now are focused on mitigation. For the rest of us, it's time to learn about the Ultimate Golden Rule.

Most who follow politics closely know who the Koch Brothers are. Only those who are interested in science know about Richard Muller. But, just in case, the Koch Brothers inherited their father's oil refinery business. They are one of, if not the largest, contributors to conservative and libertarian politicians and their Super-PACs. As you might have guessed just by inference, they are climate-change deniers.

Richard Muller is a Professor of Physics at the University of California - Berkeley and has been one of the most outspoken critics, or skeptics of "climate change due to man-made global warming." He is also author of the popular science book, Physics for Future Presidents.

As you might imagine, the Koch Brothers found Richard Muller to be the best pick to research the science behind climate change.  So, Muller and a dozen other scientists got to work.  They tested and accounted for every seemingly credible counter-argument to man-made climate change.  What they found is what the vast majority of climatologists have known for decades.  If we don't do something now, eventually Earth will be uninhabitable for humanity.

I wish I was a fly on the wall when the Koch Brothers got those results back, especially considering it was a study they had funded.

While the results of this study were released almost a year ago, and those of us who follow such science closely heard the results at the time, most of the populace had not yet heard what Muller had to say.  That may be what prompted him to write an Op-Ed in the New York Times on July 28th, 2012.  It starts like this:

"CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause."

The Jimmy Carter Sweater speech isn't so funny now is it?

It's time to get serious about this problem.  If you love your country...if you love your kids...if you love your grand-kids, and generations of kids to follow, you - all of us, have a responsibility to make change happen now before it's too late.  The Law of the Iroquois and Seven Generation Sustainability is in order - the Ultimate Golden Rule. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Karl Frank Jr. August 06, 2012 at 02:10 PM
And for those who would like to learn more, National Geographic has a whole section dedicated to education on Global Warming and its consequences. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/
Jason Wescoat August 09, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Okay, when it gets to 99.9% I'll agree with you. I'm not going to argue it's anywhere near 50/50, but it's not 99.9%. For the record, even if it gets to 100%, it still won't mean they're right. Science is all about skepticism, on that we agree. You don't even know what I think. I don't recall saying. You think you know what I think, but you don't. It is impressive how you know more about who Muller says he is than he does. So, when Al Gore said it was settled 20 years ago, was it settled then? When he said in 10 years the planet was going to burn (roughly 7 years ago), was it settled then? What determines settled? Is consensus settled? Something like 90% of people believe there is some sort of god, why isn't that settled? That's way more total people then the relatively small cadre of scientists. Are only scientists the only intelligent people? If so, why should I listen to you as opposed the the hundreds of scientists I deal with on an annual basis?
Jason Wescoat August 09, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Again I'll reiterate, nearly all the source data came for the CRU, and known to be suspect source. I know, climate scientists reviewed their information and found that they were scoundrels, but that their data was clean. How shocking?!? When in doubt, go back to the source. Also, when it doubt, follow the money. July was hottest month on record. When was the previous hottest month, 1936. Not anytime in recent history. It was much colder in the 70's, and not just one month or year, consistently. (Now, I'll tell you what I think). The world heats and cools, all the time. It's been way hotter than this, and way cooler. It will continue to do so. Nothing we can do will make much difference on a global scale. The Sun and the Earth will more than handle what we can throw at it, at least at this level of technological advancement. Locally, it's a totally different story, I'll agree on that.
Jason Wescoat August 09, 2012 at 01:07 AM
And this is a pretty decent description of why many of us so-called "deniers" feel the way that we do. http://www.american.com/archive/2010/march/when-to-doubt-a-scientific-consensus/ It's not perfect, and it doesn't mean we're even right. It just means that little of this consensus passes the smell test of legit science. Never mind that 99.9% of science has been wrong before, it all happened relatively quickly, and with marginalization of anyone in science who dared speak out. If you're not scared of your facts, you don't need to hide people who disagree. It's similar to President Obama and his birth certificate and Mitt Romney and his tax records. Be transparent and questions won't need to be asked.
Jason Wescoat August 09, 2012 at 01:18 AM
As a side note, to think that you don't have biases just like all the rest of us is completely absurd. We all do, and it impacts every decision we make. We all have faith in something, be it a higher power or science or ourselves. It makes up who we are. I want to know the truth. If the truth is that there's no God, great, I can save a lot of money I give away. If the truth is that humans are causing the lions share of global warming and it's getting out of control, you're right, we need to stop it. If the truth is the world made out of pure random chance, that matters, even to this discussion. If the truth is that there is a God, and He made all of us, that matters as well. No matter what I believe, if I have convincing proof to back it up, I would be crazy to not teach my children that truth. I also would be crazy to ignore new facts as they present themselves. I'm not telling you how to raise your children or what to do with your life, but if I have an answer that you don't and it will impact you, and I don't tell you, I'm the worst of the worst for hiding in fear. The same is true for you.
Karl Frank Jr. August 09, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Where to start? Ok. First, faith and science. Faith by definition is believing in something that there is no evidence for. Or a belief that is not based on truth. Science is a method for discovering things about reality based on observable evidence. In order for something to fall within the realm of science, it needs two things. 1. It has to be testable and 2. It has to be falsifiable. So, calling science a "faith" is like calling bald a hair color, or not stamp collecting is the same as stamp collecting. Again, faith means a belief in something with no evidence. Science means knowing something based on evidence. A short example - Your cell phone. It works because of the scientific method. Not just space ships to launch satellites, but our understanding of gravity, general relativity, atmospheric science, communications science, etc. Basically, your cell phone works because of the scientific method. You would not be able to use your cell phone on faith alone. Another short example - based on observable experience, I know that if I step off of a 1000 foot cliff, I am going to die. That's knowledge. It's real. I could have faith that I was going to float, but that's not real. So, that's the difference between faith and science and they are in no way comparable. I'm running out of space for this comment, so I will continue on the next. :)
Karl Frank Jr. August 09, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Ok, falsifiability. It's another difference between faith/pseudoscience, and science. In order for something to fall within the realm of practical science, it has to be falsifiable. For instance, using the example about stepping off of a 1000 foot cliff. It is possible for me to set up an experiment for me to falsify that I would fall if I stepped off. However, I would likely have my assistant do this for me. Now the falsification of faith or God. You can not falsify the existence of God because you cannot prove a negative. So, I can not prove to you there is no God. I also can not prove to you there are no unicorns. I also can not prove to you there are no fairies. So, Falsification, another reason why science is not faith. Now back to climate science and climate change due to man-made global warming. I am indeed a skeptic. Subscriber to the magazine and all, even when they denied global warming...but now they have come around to the science and have seen that the science if overwhelming enough to believe that it is real...just like gravity. It is possible to falsify global warming, and that is how Richard Muller set up his tests, just like any good scientist should do. They should not work to prove their hypothesis correct, they should set out to falsify it. That's what he did. Unfortunately for us, he was unsuccessful. The science stands and the global warming deniers are just wrong. I wish the deniers were right, but they are not.
Karl Frank Jr. August 09, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Lastly, on bias. I have a set of morals I have set up for my family based on general set of ideals designed around well-being. (They also go to church with my mom and stepdad, but that's besides the point.) 1. Love Well 2. Seek the Good in All Things 3. Harm No Others 4. Think for Yourself 5. Educate Yourself 6. Take Responsibility 7. Respect Nature 8. Understand Your Weaknesses 9. Understand Your Biases <-------ding, ding, ding 10. Protect Those Weaker Than Yourself 11. Do Your Greatest 12. Be Full of Wonder 13. Be Informed 14. Be Kind 15. Be Heroic 16. Be Honest 17. Be Joyful 18. Be Courageous 19. Question Everything 20. Have Fun "Life is Too Important to be Taken Seriously." - Oscar Wilde
Jason Wescoat August 09, 2012 at 08:16 PM
First off, assuming everyone other than yourself is stupid really isn't a good way to do things. You consistently do that and your ridiculous cell phone and cliff analogies (though I did like the assistant comment below, ha ha!) are just more examples. Please assume I passed 9th grade science when discussing basic science. Second, using A definition of faith as THE definition of faith isn't intellectually honest. Unless of course, your faith in your own abilities to fix computers is based on nothing, or your faith in your wife to not poison your next meal is based on nothing, or your faith that when you start your car it won't blow up this time is based on nothing. Of course you have faith in many things that aren't based on nothing. Even if it's testable and falsifiable, there's still faith at the outset. To argue otherwise is nonsense. For example, you have boatloads of faith in science to both be correct and unbiased. While often the case, hence your faith, we know both of these aren't always true. As long as scientists need to obtain funds from other private and public sources, anything has to be questioned. It's why they peer review for goodness sakes. They don't trust themselves. Always follow the money. I'm not arguing mass intentional deceit or all unethical behavior, though surely there has been some. It's human nature to want to please others and the very vast majority of conclusions reached are reasonable, even if they're proven wrong later.
Jason Wescoat August 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I will fully agree you can't prove God doesn't exist, and not because I disagree with your feelings on if God exists :). Part of my problem is that they really can't falsify the effects of man-made global warming, even if you can prove man is causing the warming. If you have consistent data points that are reliable, you can follow weather patterns and see that it's pretty clearly getting warmer this decade than say the 70's. However, all attempts to go back hundreds of years are based on assumptions (there it is again) and bias from those assumptions. Stories routinely come out about how we need to change what we thought we knew about the past, including global temps. Weather is so incredibly complex, we're not sure what's going to happen in 10 minutes often times. How can we truly know what's going to happen in 100 years? How do we know how the Earth is going to react to increased CO2 (good for trees, no?) and others if we haven't tested it before? They have great faith in their models for the future, but using your own arguments, their faith is based on nothing, because we don't know because globally man has not put this stuff in the air before in these quantities. We can assume based on evidence, but it's not falsifiable unless you have a little mini-Earth that we can test real quickly.
Jason Wescoat August 09, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Total side bar here, but I really like your list. I would argue for the addition of "Be Humble" and "Promote peace" and "Have Patience" and "Practice Self-Control" among others, but the things that are there really are good. However, why do you have any morals? I'm not saying you don't have them, I'm just asking why does it matter?
Karl Frank Jr. August 09, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I'm not really going to take the time to display the overwhelming evidence of climate-change due to man made global warming because I would basically just be repeating what has already been said. Most of what you say was address in the Muller study as well as the link that I had already provided, but here it is: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/ It's really basic chemistry. You have a chemical makeup of the atmosphere. You add billions of tons of new chemicals every year, the chemistry of the atmosphere changes. It really is that simple.
Karl Frank Jr. August 09, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Well, believing that my wife isn't going to poison me isn't science either. It's just a belief based on inference and past experience. The etymology of the word faith is trust and in traditional language, it means trust or belief in something that can not be proven. For instance, if you had first hand knowledge that God was real, then you would no longer have faith in God, you would have knowledge of God. Again, there is a difference between what we know through science and what we know through faith (which isn't anything - unless you want to get into personal language usage and semantics.) The scientific method (positivism) and falsifiability of conjectures are the basis of science and have always taken us closer to the truth and not farther. Science is about being less wrong, but there is such thing as knowledge. Using your example. I know now that my wife did not poison me yesterday or any time before...at least not effectively. I do not have knowledge that she will not poison me today or tomorrow. I have faith, but not knowledge. The two are completely separate. I know for a fact that if I do not stick my foot out to catch me when I move forward that I will fall to the ground. I can prove this scientifically and does not require any amount of faith. It can both be tested and falsified. So can global warming. All of the warming predictions since 1981 have come true, and some are worse. Just be prepared for the consequences.
Karl Frank Jr. August 09, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Here is the source behind my last comment about the accuracy of warming predictions since 1981 due directly to consequences of man an our civilization/way of life. http://www.universetoday.com/94468/1981-climate-change-predictions-were-eerily-accurate/
Karl Frank Jr. August 09, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I may add some. I have been thinking about compiling the list a bit, but I like having it under 20. For instance, be courageous and heroic could be possibly be combined. Humility is an interesting one. I happen to think that humility and Christianity are mutually exclusive. You can't be humble and a Christian. Christianity requires a unique kind of arrogance. As for as morality...I think it comes by naturally and is part of the natural selection process. With our larger brains came a conscience and in hunter-gatherer groups (our ancestors) bullies and free-riders were punished and ostracized. So, in general, I think morality is a natural occurrence that has biological and reproductive consequences. According to military psychologist Lt. Dave Grossman, 1% of our population are born psychopaths and 2% of the population are born without enough empathy to be natural killers. Basically, they just don't care to kill. The rest of us have to be trained psychologically to kill. It's just not part of our nature. That's why kill to shoot raitios have gone up in the military. Training has changed to match this knowledge scientifically. It is part of the debriefing and re-assimilation of soldiers into society. (See PTSD.) Basically, there is a "landscape of morality" and morality can be scientifically defined because of our conscience and consciousness. Morality is in the "knowing." That which maintains or increases well-being is moral, that which reduces it is not.
Jason Wescoat August 14, 2012 at 02:23 PM
C'mon Karl, global climate isn't really that simple, and you know it. Local weather isn't that simple. The argument that we can know global climate better then what's going to happen tomorrow in Saint Louis is ridiculous. Besides, in the chemistry, the warming we've seen is only 1/3 attributed to CO2. I've looked for scientific papers with reasons for the other 2/3, and so far I've found nothing. Moving forward, though we don't know where 2/3 of the warming comes from, we just assume it will continue. Again I'll reiterate, the Earth has been warmer than this before. It survived, and it will again. We may at some point may need to adjust more to survive the way we want, but we won't destroy the world. One final thing is the data. You can't get past the shadiness of the data that nearly all climate change studies have used. We know they tried to hide some of their data, for really unknown reasons. We also know that they picked data points all too often within urban heat zones without having as many rural areas which would certainly increase the temperature data. The very vast majority of climate change science has been simply wrong in their predictions, even given the shady data skewed in their direction. In study after study it was supposed to be way hotter than this already, and yet, it's not. I've read some, but haven't looked at every page on that link or read every word of the Muller study. When base data is in question, everything that follows is as well.
Karl Frank Jr. August 14, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Jason, Weather and climate are two different things. The simplest way to look at it is just like your average body temperature. 98.6 degrees is when you feel good. 99.6, not so much, 101, feeling pretty darn bad, approach 106 and you might die. Same with the Earth's average temperature, globally, which is around 78 degrees if I remember correctly. Every degree it goes up, the climate changes. As I explained earlier, it is the chemistry of the atmosphere that allows for life as we know it. As you change the chemistry, especially with heat trapping molecules, the temperature goes up and the chemistry because less hospitable. It really is that simple. 99% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct on this planet. The first major extinction happened around 285 million years ago. The next major extinction happened 65 million years ago. We could be the first species that directly causes their own extinction. Of course, it's only a matter of time before a natural disaster like 65 million and 285 million years ago happens again, but there is no reason to be the cause of genocide of millions of our own descendants, not to mention the lives we are already taking with weather that has been linked to climate change.
Karl Frank Jr. August 14, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Here is the latest on how climate change is no longer about the future, but is now being tied by scientists directly to the effects of climate change that were first predicted 30 years ago. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/climate-change-drought/ The prediction is that this year's record drought for the American West will likely continue for the next 100 years. Again, it's our lifestyles that are causing this - as predicted.
Jason Wescoat August 14, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Well, on the point that Christians feel like they have the only correct way, if you call that lack of humility, I won't argue with you. Outside of that one item though, humility ought to be a hallmark of Christianity. Unfortunately, all too often, it's not. The question still remains how did the concept of morality even start? Why would it have helped the first of our hunter/gatherer ancestors to show morals? How could we go from "survival of the fittest" to 97% of people being unable to kill unless trained (or perhaps cornered and wanting to protect family) so quickly? Whose well being should be maintained or increased? How is that defined? Your phrase is an incredibly slippery slope to get on.
Karl Frank Jr. August 14, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Right. On humility and Christianity, John 3:16 says it all. The whole idea of thinking you can magically effect outcomes with prayer, etc. Especially when Christians disagree with you on something and they let you know they will be praying for your. The arrogance makes me cringe. Morality is just what we call it. Survival of the fittest isn't the appropriate phrase for natural selection. A branch of natural selection is social selection that applies for creatures with a conscience. There is also a less widely accepted branch of natural selection called group selection, but that is highly disputed among evolutionary biologists. There is a great book on the topic that is about 500 pages long called the origins of what we call morality that explains morality's connection to social selection. Obviously it would be hard to summarize that book and the science in this space. The best I can do is: Hunter-gatherer groups were small bands of 20-40. Everyone knows that the closer you are genetically to someone, the more altruistic you will be. But extrafamilial altruism is harder to explain and depends on empathy related similarities between receiver and giver. In hunter-gatherer groups, meat sharing is equal. They are egalitarian for the benefit of the group. Even if one is clearly a better hunter, meat is shared evenly. Cheaters and bullies are ostracized and even killed. That lowers their reproductive fitness meaning they don't pass on their genes. Out of space. :)
Seth Simons August 14, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Some quotes from this fine example of definitive scientific research: - The drought that’s turned most of the United States into a dessicated hotbox MAY be a symptom of climate change - Climate scientists, who prefer to speak in terms of probabilities and trends rather than single events, ARE RELUCTANT TO POINT FINGERS AT ANY ONE CAUSE - “In any single event, it’s HARD TO REALLY KNOW if you’re just seeing a natural variation or climate change,” - Belief in climate change is now at an all-time U.S. high, and while explaining the causes of any large weather pattern is always difficult, enough is known about climate to make some educated GUESSES. - Whether the current drought’s severity is linked to greenhouse gas pollution is “difficult to say with certainty,” Guan said. “It could be a combination of both natural forces and human impact, but WE CAN'T BE SURE, at least for now. Picked yet another poor example to support your grand musings. I can't believe some of the stuff you post to support your conjecture. This is the writers bio and expert scientific credentials: Brandon is a Wired Science reporter and freelance journalist. Based in Brooklyn, New York and sometimes Bangor, Maine, he's fascinated with science, culture, history and nature.
Karl Frank Jr. August 14, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Hence the problem with people who do not understand the scientific method and why scientists have such a hard time communicating to an uninformed population. As it says, scientists work on probabilities and never say anything is a certainty. But, they say that climate change due to man-made global warming is more than 90% certainty which makes it as certain as gravity. Why isn't gravity 100%? Because they still don't understand exactly where the force comes from. But you are right, here is a better source: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/05/us/climate-change/index.html From NASA scientist James Hansen - "Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change."
Karl Frank Jr. August 14, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Here is a "fun" one. The website is Boing Boing, but it is linking to two articles on Scientific American. I would just link directly to the SA articles, but that would take the "fun" out of it. http://boingboing.net/2012/08/14/what-is-climate-change-ruining.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29
Jason Wescoat August 15, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I understand the analogy. However, I still have two problems that you at this point can't be answered. First, the Earth has still been much hotter than this, and it wasn't just disasters that brought down the world temp. http://joannenova.com.au/2010/02/the-big-picture-65-million-years-of-temperature-swings/ Second, is data, data, data. The source data simply can't be fully trusted. Even if there are zero mitigating circumstances, their source data is just about the only data to go on at this point, and that's a problem. Anything you find from Hansen et al has that problem.
Jason Wescoat August 15, 2012 at 01:56 AM
*However, I still have two problems that you haven't/can't answer at this point.
Jason Wescoat August 15, 2012 at 02:11 AM
The question the second time around wasn't about how it may have evolved, but about how nervous the "well being" comment made me. You may be a reasonable dude, but the exact same thought process could lead to nasty outcomes... You ought to cut Christians some slack. You're welcome to disagree, obviously, but Christians don't just make up the story that prayer makes a difference. Perhaps you can push it off to coincidence or luck, but when someone prays, and at some time after, what they prayed for happens (especially if it's unreasonable that it happened naturally, i.e. terminal cancer actually disappearing...yes, that happened to someone I know, either the docs were simply wrong, or something pretty compelling happened there), it's pretty strong evidence. I can't answer every scenario, but these aren't made up fairy tales. These are real stories that are hard to explain in other ways. Side note, since Christians believe they have the only way, to not pray for others would be simply hateful. Appreciate it or not, someone sincerely praying for you is someone that actually cares about you. What is arrogant in your view is compassion in their view.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Jason, I missed that last comment until now. I stumbled across this quote today from Christopher Hitchens that says it way better than I ever can. “I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with 'you' in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me.” Your comments are prayer below are a result of a human tendency called "confirmation bias." In double-blind studies on the effects of prayer, there just is no different in outcome between prayer and no prayer. For instance, a cancer patient will live or die statistically the same with or without prayer, including if and when they even know they are being prayed for, whether or not they or doing the praying, or whether it is someone they know praying for them or don't know. The outcome is statistically the same. However, there are some psychological benefits to prayer. The same benefits apply regardless of what God your pray to or religion you are. They are the same benefits that come with secular mindfulness.
Karl Frank Jr. August 16, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Jason, here is something i just finished reading on how punishing cheaters promotes the evolution of cooperation...or the origins of morality, or the Golden Rule, if you prefer. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/2012/08/16/punishing-cheaters/ Social Selection: "Individuals in a social group, whether that group is composed of bacteria, cichlids, chimpanzees, or people, often benefit when cooperating with others who reciprocate the favor. But what about those individuals who take advantage of the generosity of others and provide nothing in return? These individuals could well thrive thanks to the group as a whole and end up with greater fitness than everyone else because they didn’t have to pay the costs associated with cooperating. For decades the idea that cheaters may in fact prosper has been the greatest difficulty in understanding cooperation as an evolved trait. However, it turns out that cooperation could be a viable evolutionary strategy when individuals within the group collectively punish cheaters who don’t pull their weight."
Larry Lazar September 01, 2012 at 07:29 PM
for anyone stil following this post that is interested in learning more about human caused climate change, I organize a facebook and meetup.com group dedicated to the issues. Please see links below. Karl, we would love to have you on the team if you are interested. https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/302722206416709/ http://www.meetup.com/STL-Climate-Reality
Karl Frank Jr. September 03, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Jason, someone who read this suggested that I ask you what it would take for you to believe in climate change due to man-made global warming. so, there you have it....what would it take?


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