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Denial Is Not a River in Egypt

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I’ve grown accustomed to it over the years. I’ve never been fully convinced that Global Warming was really happening, and I’ve never concealed my opinions to that effect. As a result, I’ve been called any number of derogatory epithets, leading off with “denier,” a throwback to the Germans (and a few others) who steadfastly refused to believe that the Third Reich was systematically eliminating Jews, gays, and other human beings they considered undesirable. But questioning GW is markedly different from denying the Holocaust; there are solid, massive amounts of evidence, including eyewitness accounts, to document Hitler’s Final Solution.

Global Warming, on the other hand, is supported by far less real, tangible evidence, and much of the theory hangs on the predictions of computer models, which in most sciences are a useful tool, but because they can and do tend to be imprecise, only on a theoretical level. Indeed, one such model, Michael Mann’s infamous “Hockey Stick” graph proved to be so distanced from reality as to become a world wide laughingstock. And, of course, we GW deniers aren’t denying (and thus excusing) genocide. As I said, there’s a difference.

But the real difference lies in the reality of what has been transpiring in Earth’s atmosphere. For 15 years, nearly the past two decades, the atmosphere has not warmed, even though carbon dioxide released into it is increasing; an estimated 100 billion tons of CO2 were added to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010.

Now, before all you true believers rise en masse to crucify me, let me assure you that it is not my intention to flat-out deny the possibility of GW. Just as I believe there is not enough good evidence to confirm its existence beyond the shadow of a doubt, so too, one cannot at this point say, “That’s it, folks, move on; nothing to see here,” like a cop at an accident scene. What does seem to be happening, however, is that there is now, on the part of some scientists, a modicum of doubt, at least as to the potential severity of the GW phenomenon; a doubt that, for many of these scientists and government officials, did not exist until now. Concurrent with the emergence of that doubt, we are now seeing some of the scientists themselves taking a second look at their computer models and other data, seeking explanations for what at the moment, are puzzling anomalies that are not congruent with much of the thinking until now. Even NASA’s James Hansen, one of the chief standard bearers for Global Warming theory, has observed publicly, “The five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

The question of what is actually going on is centered on what the scientists term, “Climate Sensitivity,” which, as its name implies, simply refers to how much (or how little) the climate will react to changes in CO2 levels over time. According to the UK’s venerable conservative (in the American sense) journal, The Economist,

This is usually defined as how much hotter the Earth will get for each doubling of CO2 concentrations. So-called equilibrium sensitivity, the commonest measure, refers to the temperature rise after allowing all feedback mechanisms to work (but without accounting for changes in vegetation and ice sheets).

The rule of thumb for the effect that CO2 has on the atmosphere’s temperature has been that each doubling of the amount of absorbed carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will result in roughly a 1 degree Celsius rise in its temperature. There are, however, other variables which complicate this theory. As The Economist notes, these variables complicate predictions for two reasons:

About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Doug Hunter

    “Working with the homeless as I do”

    That’s got to provide some insight. If you could dictate one policy change to improve society as it relates to the homeless what would it be?

    I’ll never struggle to remember some, I’ve taken the story of the greatest generation hook, line, and sinker. Have you ever been in the mountains on a cold night and stared up into the sky or grabbed a small telescope or binoculars and looked up at the available cosmos, nebulae with baby stars sucking the dust from billions of miles in every direction, billion year old stars in all phases of life that have barely changed since before life evolved on this plane, and then realized you only have an inkling of how far it is even to the other planets in our solar system and you can’t conceive of the distances/times involved in simply getting to the other objects in your field of view. Above all this you realize that everything you can see, far more than you could ever fathom is just one simple galaxy among hundreds of billions and you realize that you, your whole life, and everything you hold dear are just one infinitesimal small and insignificant blip in the face of the universe.

    I get a similiar feeling when I try to grasp the magnitude of WWII… awe for lack of a better word. The players… Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Mussolinin, FDR, Eisenhower, Patton… were larger than life and remain household names to this day. It had the ultimate villain who locked much of the planet in a battle for survival, it had a scale of inhumanity, death, and destruction that simply boggles the mind. I have the utmost respect for anyone who lived through that time, soldier or not. They fought that battle, gave their blood, sweat, and tears then came back and built the world we live in today (even if they did spoil the boomers a little bit). My respect for soldiers and what burdens they bear springs from there and I feel that may be true for many in society. When that generation dies off completely I think the image of the soldier will begin to tarnish, not sure that’s all bad either.

  • Dr Dreadful

    If you could dictate one policy change to improve society as it relates to the homeless what would it be?

    That’s a really good question. I suppose my first thought would be that combating homelessness needs to be an absolute national priority.

    I think you, Doug, and indeed all but the most ardent libertarian would concede that a key part of the federal government’s prime constitutional mission is to provide for the general welfare, and that this would include making sure its people have access to basic human needs like food and shelter.

    A country that fails to feed its people is rightly looked upon with censure. The same should be true of a country that fails to house them.

  • Clav

    Well, Doc, you more than any among us here on BC have the best insight into housing those in need. Is it the truth that most of our attempts to do so over the past 100+ years have been more failure than success? And if so, why?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Largely because of a chronic failure to realize that homelessness is about more than just housing. A roof over one’s head is important, but people don’t become homeless in a vacuum: there is always something else going on.

    There’s not much point in finding someone a place to live if they can’t pay rent or can’t cope with the responsibilities that come with being a householder. They’ll be back on the street before you know it.

    In recent years, fortunately, there’s been a lot more recognition that housing for the chronically homeless has to go in tandem with providing the resources they need to be able to stay housed, whether it be mental health services, life skills coaching, helping them claim whatever benefits they qualify for, or what have you.

  • cindy

    The Pogues song wasn’t me, Clav. But I did like it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Finland cut homelessness by sixty percent in twenty years…but I’m not sure that it would work here even if we were able to get the conservatives on board with it.

  • Christopher Rose

    Re 150, If that is meant to refer to all wars, I wouldn’t agree with that.

  • Illuminatus Hussein O’Chavez

    Re 157 –

    You’re right – such a blanket pass is not called for. I’ll take the hit for that.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Sorry – #158′s mine – forgot to change my name back.

  • peter petterson

    Just to comment on comments. The Australian Govt has decreed that any New Zealander who has come to Australia after 2001 is not entitled to any Govt assistance at ALL. No welfare benefits, no emergency assistance and no student loans to help people retrain – despite the fact they have been paying their full amount of local and federal taxes.Most of these people were in full time employment but when the economy went pear – shaped in about 2007, employers started laying off their staff. Those who couldn’t get new jobs thet were entitled to some form of social welfare assistance, except New Zealanders who came after 2001. What do these people do? Charities are limited in how they can help families. From what I have read of the situation is these now unemployed workers and their families, they could not afford to continue paying for their rental accomodation. There are some jobs around for some skilled workers’

    In NZ there is no discrimination over who can get assistance. If you are entitled to work in NZ, you are entitled to receive the same assistance as any other permanent resident or Kiwi citizen. It is a bit harder now for everybody.

  • roger nowosielski

    Thanks for responding, Peter.

    Please understand, I didn’t mean to drag you into the fray, but I think the issue you’ve raised is important enough to warrant a healthy exchange of opinions, even if it means radically diverse opinions.

  • peter petterson

    Not at all Roger. The Australians need to justify their policies. Its not as if the Australian Government has offered every Kiwi involved a one-way ticket back to NZ. John key is as useless as tits on a bull anyway. If Helen Clark had still been the NZ Pm, Gillard would have had been eaten alive.

  • roger nowosielski

    I’m encouraged by the fact you’re sticking to your story, Peter, even though some of my compadres here might not appreciate my dogged persistence.

  • S.T.M

    OK, here’s what all the Americans need to realise in relation to this.

    The New Zealanders affected by this are not Aussie citizens. They are known as “indefinite temporaries”. Australia and NZ have had a no-visa deal for decades, but you now need a visa to become resident.

    The bizarre thing about this is that any of those long-term “indefinate temporaries” can walk in to immigration and apply for citizenship, to which they’re entitled. It also doesn’t deny them keeping their New Zealnd citizenship, as dual citizenship of both countries is allowed.

    The big problem is, it’s a one-way street.

    There are far more kiwis in Australia wanting welfare benefits than there are Aussies in NZ wanting the same thing.

    I do think it’s unfair, and I won’t be sucked into the old stereotypes about Kiwis getting on the dole in Australia, but I also think it’s a few kiwis, not a lot, who have been affected

  • S.T.M

    Also, the Australian and NZ governments are currently working together towards a solution of this issue.

    I agree with Peter, however, that it’s unfair – especially coming from a Labor government, but the this Labor government has lost its soul.

    However, having taken that step, given that we will likely have a conservative government for at least the next decade and a bit, it’s now unlikely to ever be reversed unless John Keys can somehow settle it with current Aussie PM Julia Gillard between now and the federal election September, because I wouldn’t imagine that a government under Tony Abbott will change it.

    I would say that in the case of the indefinite temporary residents from NZ, the Aussie government would be looking for some contribution from the NZ government in regard to welfare payments.

    I believe these laws affect 100,000 kiwis. However, most can resolve it by taking out Australian citizenship.

    I recognise that many have been working and paying taxes in Oz, but if they have some problem with taking citizenship, then they also ought to have some problem with taking welfare payments paid for by Australian taxpapers in Australia, where they have chosen to live, rather than their own country.

    The other thing is, many of those Kiwis now complaining entered Australia knowing that visa conditions stipulated that should they lose their jobs, they wouldn’t be entitled to welfare or student loans from the Australian state.

    However, Peter has ommitted to mention that the two governments are currently in talks aimed at resolving this issue.

    There is a major cost factor to the Australian government, rather than the NZ government. I believe the number of indefinite temporary visa holders from NZ could be as high as 150,000.

  • S.T.M

    And getting citizenship in Australia is a rather simple affair. You only need toi resident for two years, I believe.

  • S. T. M

    This issue was highlighted BTW during the Queensland natural disasters, when many Kiwis living and working here on temporary permanent visas discovered they were not eligible for the Australian government’s one-off disaster assistance payments.

    However, following talks between the NZ government and the Oz government, they were given the opportunity to apply and most received them. The NZ PM described the Aus giovernment’s attitude in this case as “quite generous”. It wasn’t automatic however, and the cases were considered on a case by case basis.

    The laws were changed in 2001, btw. Something, however, certainly needs to be done in relation to this entire issue and there now is at least a path to citizenship.

    It doesn’t surprise me, though, that the overspending Gillard is looking at any savings, despite the human cost.

    They recently took many single mothers (those with children over the age of 8) off the single-mothers’ pension and put them on the dole, ostensibly to encourage them to find work.

    In my view, it was about cost cutting and targeting the vulnerable, in a bid to balance the books after years of overspending.

    I’ve been a Labor voter, BTW, all my life – but I couldn’t vote for them again until they regain their soul – which is fightingfor the rights of ordinary working people, not in supporting bizarre and costly loony left schemes which happened for two reasons: the party is now run by a left elite of academics and chardonnay socialists, and because it didn’t win a majority at the last federal election, was forced into bed with the Greens, who aren’t green at all, and independents trying to pork barrel their own constituencies in return for their support in parliament.

    The Greens have been shown to be watermelons – green on the outside and red on the inside, and interested more in protest than government.

    I hope this issue Peter is talking about is resolved soon, as it really isn’t right.

    However, I do question that people can’t find work. There is plenty of work available, and I don’t believe Australia should be forking out for airfares to return Kiwis to NZ.

    Of course, none of that (my opinion) takes into consderation the personal circumstances of those in question, and why they might be able to find jobs, so maybe that is an area the Aus government should be looking at.

  • S. T. M

    Here is a full explanation of how it works.

    It is my understanding that state-funded hospital care under Medicare and access to aged and disability pensions are protected no matter the visa category.

    Still, it doesn’t make it fair, as access to permanent residency costs in the region two grand, which makes it tough if you don’t have job. A criminal record will likely stop you getting it, as will the type of job or skill you have.

  • roger nowosielski

    A very fair response, Stan. Not that it should matter, but my respect for you and yours has just doubled. If even to a degree you are a representative of the average Aussie citizen, kudos to you all.

  • pablo

    Hey Chicken Little, this one is for you.

    Climate scientists come to terms with the lack of global warming

  • Dr Dreadful

    Roger Pielke, who is interviewed at the beginning of the article Pablo links to and inspired the headline, is a prominent climate change skeptic.

    As I’ve said before, it’s a bit like saying summer isn’t coming because today isn’t any hotter than yesterday.

  • pablo

    This was written for Chicken Little 1, not 2 Dread.

  • Dr Dreadful

    My bad, Pablo.

    And now I must bid you adieu, to foray back out into the snowdrift-clogged streets of San Diego in a forlorn search for more firewood.