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Birther Debate dead, Could Climate Change Debate be Next?

Boyd Cohen | Monday May 2nd, 2011 | 14 Comments

By Boyd Cohen, CO2 IMPACT

Good old Donald Trump.  We all know there is no way he will ever be President of the U.S. and I think he knows it too. But that doesn’t mean he can’t use his media smarts to grow his brand.  Mr. Trump managed to briefly make a media storm out of something I had hoped we had buried a long time ago: the validity of Obama’s birthplace.  By recycling an old conservative tactic in the run-up to the 2008 elections, Donald Trump may have managed to score one for the opposing team, the Obama camp.  That is because Obama’s team finally had enough of this debate and in the span of a few days, shut it down by getting the long-awaited “long-form” version of his birth certificate from Hawaii.

I know I am an eternal optimist, and you’ll have to bear with me for a minute, but I am seeing an even more silver lining in the closing of the great birther debate.  As I see it, this could be the beginning of the debunking of many attempts by the hard right to circumvent truths we all know to be self-evident.  Surprisingly I have lots of very conservative friends and business associates who steadfastly supported the notation that Obama was in fact born in some other country, despite all of the prior evidence to the contrary.

What most of us already know is that there are a relative minority of people with agendas who seek to raise doubt in the voter’s minds about all kinds of topics that should be beyond reproach based on the real evidence.  And for some reason this seems to work more often than not in North America while other parts of the world are more immune to these efforts.

I must admit that it is not just the conservative right that tries this; they just tend to be more successful at it.  The conspiracy theorists for 9/11 make claims that 9/11 was manufactured by former President Bush in an attempt to justify a war with Iraq. If you feel like indulging, watch the 9/11 Conspiracy here.

For some reason these hard-core leftists also posing ridiculous arguments not supported by real facts have not penetrated mainstream media, nor have their theories been adopted in mass by the left.  Even Al Qaeda themselves have spoken out to ridicule the 911 theories :)

Sarah Palin, yes that beacon of intelligence representing the tea party and the far right (I think I’d prefer Donald Trump to Sarah Palin), managed to create a myth about death squads when Obama’s team attempted to introduce universal health care.  Once again, far too many hard-liners and even mainstream Americans actually believed it, even though the facts (i.e. the text of the Health Care reform) would lead any reasonable person to conclude that Ms. Palin was spouting hogwash.

Luckily I haven’t heard any death squad discussions lately although don’t put it past Mr. Trump to recycle that one too.

This all leads me to my point about facts versus blatant attempts to mislead the American public about climate change.  Does any rational person on the whole planet really believe that we are not in fact experiencing climate change?  Glaciers are disappearing at faster rates than predicted just a few years ago; consecutive years among the hottest ever recorded; record floods in Pakistan; and record heat waves in Russia all ought to be enough to convince everyone that the climate is changing. Period. Forget what Al Gore says, forget the thousands of Ph.D. trained climate scientists who are in unanimity on the science and the recognition that humans, through our GHG emissions are partially to blame…just look at the evidence.  And no I don’t mean some random cold day in April as some anecdotal “evidence” that climate change is not really an issue, or for that matter, some hacked emails followed by misinterpretation.

Yet, we still have many people buying unsubstantiated justifications about why we are not in fact experiencing climate change. Desmogblog.com and the recent book, Climate Cover-Up, provide significant explanation of this hard to fathom refute of the obvious.

Managing to shut up Mr. Trump by debunking the tired birther debate has left me inspired that somehow, some way, Americans (I say Americans because we are for some reason the most likely to fall for the unfounded conspiracies) will be more skeptical about conspiracy theories in the future.  I just don’t know what smoking gun, silver bullet or whatever we will uncover that finally convinces the skeptics in what the rest of the world already knows-that climate change is here, it is deadly serious and we must act to mitigate it before we are just left with adaptation solutions.

Until then, let’s move forward with showing our fellow Americans how profit can be made across all industries such as energy, transportation and buildings by making the switch to the low-carbon economy.  That is what Hunter Lovins and I call Climate Capitalism.  If facts, floods and famine don’t sway the skeptics, job creation and the mighty dollar might do the trick.

 

Boyd Cohen is the CEO of CO2 IMPACT, a carbon origination company based in Vancouver, Canada and Bogota, Colombia. Boyd is also the co-author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.

Twitter: boydcohen

This series will use the hashtag #climatcaptlsm

 


▼▼▼      14 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • D Bonson

    Lets do some debunking shall we?

    Of course glaciers are shrinking. We are the tail end of a period known as an interglacial which is a warm period between two glacial (cooler) periods. When we hit the next glacial period, the glaciers will grow again. Of course, if you are a history denier, you will argue against this.

    The Earth’s temperature has levelled out and is now in a cooling period. Even global warming promoter Kevin Trenbeth admitted to much in a email not meant for public eyes in October 2009 by stating “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a
    travesty that we can’t.” Our current warming period is not unique historically and, as I stated earlier, if you are a history denier, you will argue against this.

    Pakistan floods? http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/25/new-uw-peer-reviewed-paper-on-the-2010-pakistan-floods-nothing-to-do-with-climate-change/

    Russian heat wave? http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/09/noaa-findsclimate-change-blameless-in-2010-russian-heat-wave/

    The “consensus” by scientists claim is always brought up. Did you mean the 52 lead authors of the IPCC or the Doran survey claiming 97% consensus based on 76 out of 79 researchers (when rounded comes to 96% – they even get the basic maths wrong).

    And on the “hacked” emails, the jury is still out on whether the emails were hacked, leaked or left on an unprotected server. One thing for sure, the files were all collated according to pending Freedom of Information requests. Maybe someone on the inside wanted to get the truth out.
    For those wanting to search the emails, here are two sites:
    http://www.climate-gate.org/
    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/

    And finally, desmog blog is a political, non-scientific activist blog. http://www.populartechnology.net/2011/04/truth-about-desmogblog.html

    I hope this info has helped the readers of this site. You don’t have to believe me or Boyd Cohen, just do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

    • mandas

      Debunking?

      You complain that desmogblog is a political site, while simultaneously linking to Anthony Watts, a man with zero credibility. How about you read some science, rather than the opinions of ideologues?

      You are worse than a birther. You are a denier. A birther is just a harmless idiot. A denier is someone who refuses to accept the evidence of credible sources (ie scientists), and puts his faith in fossil fuel lobbysist, bug-eyed walter mitty inbreds, and people who failed science at high school.

      The climate is changing – of that there can be no doubt. Temperatures have not stabilised, and we are not going through a cooling phase. How about you ask NASA, NOAA, the Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, every national science organisation in the world, the Bureau of Meteorology, etc, etc, etc.

      But what would they know, right? Much better to believe a former TV weatherman.

      And your statement about Kevin Trenberth just shows how much you have been sucked into the deniersphere. Go away and read some science – real science papers by real scientists. And get a clue.

  • kramer

    If you’d like to quell the debate on climate science, your side needs to open up ALL of it’s work for review and your side can start by letting the FOIA request proceed on Michael Mann’s emails and other work at UVA.

    If there’s nothing in these emails and other documents, then it’ll have an effect similar to the birth certificate.

  • John

    You asked:
    “Does any rational person on the whole planet really believe that we are not in fact experiencing climate change?”

    Since the climate has always changed, no, most rational people don’t believe in a static climate.

    If you meant man-made climate change, then you will find that 49% of the American public falls into this “irrational deniers” category of yours.

  • Bob B

    Any 5th grader can read a graph of past temperatures and see the recent tiny tiny tiny warming is a small blip compared to past temps. You would have us believe the recent temp increases are dangerous and due only to man?—LOL

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/noaa_gisp2_icecore_anim_hi-def3.gif

  • NikFromNYC

    The world’s most influential climate alarmist was killed yesterday, one who had a billion instead of merely millions of followers (like Gore) who hung on his every word. At least Gore still has Charles Manson to back him up:

    http://oi55.tinypic.com/2jb7fk7.jpg

    However actual thermometer records that go back an amazing 350 years don’t back him up at all:

    http://oi49.tinypic.com/rc93fa.jpg

    Climate Capitalism is communism and death by food and energy rationing. When the alarmists support instead of suppress thorium based nuclear power (no need to locate plants near bodies of cooling water and much less waste and no bomb making potential) then I will gladly start mailing checks to Greenpeace to help spread the word. Oh, wait, I already can do that for free using comments on widely read news sites. Imagine that!

  • Peter S. Mizla

    The world has seen C02 rise from 280ppm 110 years ag0- to now 392ppm. In earths past geologic history- when warming took place- due to a rise in carbon from solar and tectonic forces this took around 3,000-5,000 years.

    The last time there was no ice in the arctic in late summer- was in the Eeemian- 120,000 years ago during an interglacial. At that time global temperatures where just slightly below those of today.

    Human existence has flourished in the Holocene- the last 10,000 yrs – during a rare period of stable global temperatures and sea levels. However we are now at the highest temperatures in the Holocene.

    The period of human settlement over the past 10,000 years is known as the Holocene, during which time temperatures and hence sea levels (the two having a close correspondence) have been remarkable stable. Temperatures over the period have not been more than 0.5C warmer or cooler than the mid-line (see chart). The warmest part of the Holocene (the “Holocene maximum”) was about 8000 years ago, and according to Hansen, today’s temperature is about, or slightly above, the Holocene maximum:

    “… we conclude that, with the global surface warming of 0.7C between 1880 and 2000, global temperature in year 2000 had returned, at least, to approximately the Holocene maximum.”

    Note, this is to the year 2000, and temperatures have increased ~0.15C in the last decade, so:

    “Global temperature increased 0.5C in the past three decades to a level comparable to the prior Holocene maximum, or a few tenths of a degree higher.”

    That is, we are already a little above the Holocene maximum. This matters because Hansen’s and Sato’s look at climate history (paleoclimatology) in this new research finds that it is around this temperature level that the large polar ice sheets start to behave differently. During the Holocene, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been relatively stable, as reflected in the stability of the sea level. But once substantial melting starts, the loss of heat-reflecting white sea-ice, which is replaced by heat-absorbing dark ocean water, produces an “albedo flip”:

    The implication is clear that “just above” the Holocene maximum lurks real danger.

    “… the world today is on the verge of a level of global warming for which the equilibrium surface air temperature response on the ice sheets will exceed the global mean temperature increase by much more than a factor of two.”

    That is, warming at the poles will become more rapid and exceed the ratio so far, of being twice then global average. This change, they say, can be found in past warming events such as the Pliocene about 3 million years ago, so that:

    “… even small global warming above the level of the Holocene begins to generate a disproportionate warming on the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. “

    To put it bluntly, we are on the edge of a precipice in terms of large ice-sheet losses and sea-level rises, and there is little “cushion” left:

    “Polar warmth in prior inter-glacials and the Pliocene does not imply that a significant cushion remains between today’s climate and dangerous warming, rather that Earth today is poised to experience strong amplifying polar feedbacks in response to moderate additional warming.”

    … the fundamental issue is linearity versus non-linearity. Hansen argues that amplifying feedbacks make ice-sheet disintegration necessarily highly non-linear. In a non-linear problem, the most relevant number for projecting sea level rise is the doubling time for the rate of mass loss. Hansen suggested that a 10-year doubling time was plausible, pointing out that such a doubling time from a base of 1 mm per year ice sheet contribution to sea level in the decade 2005-2015 would lead to a cumulative 5-metre sea-level rise by 2095. “

    “… global temperature was only slightly higher in the Eemian and Holsteinian interglacial periods than in the Holocene, at most by about 1°C, but probably by only several tenths of a degree Celsius.

    Yet at these times:

    “… some paleodata suggest rates of sea-level rise perhaps as high as 1.6 ± 0.8 metres per century and sea level about 4-6 metres above present-day values.”

    It is hard to argue that anything above the Holocene maximum (of about 0.5 degrees above the pre-industrial temperature) can preserve a safe climate, and that we have already gone too far. The notion that 1.5C is a safe target is out the window, and even 1 degree looks like an unacceptably high risk.

    Temperatures are rising at a rate in line with IPCC estimates- if we double C02 from 280ppm to 560ppm we will see a 3 degree rise globally.

    • http://timberati.com N Benson

      In the case of *anthropogenic* global warming, based on the way you phrased the title, it would seem the true believers are not giving up that it’s the end of the world as we know it.

  • Meme Mine

    Fellow former “death by unstoppable warming believers” you are not alone and you are part of the majority now that has the consensus that counts, from voters. A wave of other former climate change believers are now demanding that politicians and law makers have the leading scientists and especially the unconscionable leading news editors, subjected to criminal charges for knowingly sustaining the criminal exaggerations of the CO2 mistake for the last 25 years. It is now appearing that issuing CO2 death threats to billions of children unnecessarily has not gone unnoticed and unlike Bush getting away with his false war in Iraq, the false war of climate change will sooner or later be dealt with in the courts. Treason charges for leading a country to a false war is one option now being looked at as politicians always need an enemy to blame.
    And keep in mind that it was the scientists themselves that made environmental protection necessary in the first place when they supposedly polluted the planet with their evil chemicals and cancer causing pesticides and so how ironic is it that we bowed like fools to our Gods of science for 25 years of “unstoppable warming”?
    Scientists are not gods and don’t forget that scientists also produced cruise missiles, cancer causing chemicals, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate control. Proof of consensus not being real is the fact that scientists did not march in the streets when IPCC funding was pulled, the EPA was castrated and Obama’s not even mentioning the “crisis” in his state of the union speech. Consensus was a myth because if it were true, the consensus scientists declaring a climate emergency would act like it was an emergency and demand their CO2 mitigation be taken seriously. We believed a handful of lab coat consultants who said we could CONTROL the planet’s temperature and prevent it from boiling. Pure insanity as history will call this modern day witch burning. The new denier is anyone still believing voters will vote YES to taxing the air to make the weather colder. Not going to happen.
    REAL planet lovers are happy and relieved a crisis was averted and real planet lovers don’t hold scientists as Gods and bow to politicians promising to make colder and lower the seas and scare kids with such doomsday glee.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Schueneman/1165550193 Thomas Schueneman

      Meme Mine – Wow. Incredible. With logic and argumentation like this, may God help us all.

  • Paul

    The birther debate differs from the climate debate in two main ways. The climate change denialists fear that by accepting climate change and acting upon the implications, they would be submitting themselves to big government regulations and thereby allowing the restriction their freedom.

    These two things – big government regulations and the restriction of freedom — drive everything.

    Any fake science or arguments the climate change denialists come up with are merely in service to protecting against the two fears.

    Of course there are the greenhouse gas producing industries that share and take advantage of these fears in order to protect profits.

    No scientific proof, argument or set of facts will sway the climate change denialists. Don’t bother trying. Don’t waste your time.

    The big environmental groups and their funders wasted millions of dollars thinking that they could logically argue their case and have legislation passed.

    They failed miserably and completely.

    They did so because they did not realize that it is not a matter of science and logic that determines many people’s beliefs – it’s fear of big government and fear of the restriction of freedom.

  • bornpetrified

    Record floods in Pakistan and record heat in Russia are not proof. That’s ridiculous. I agree with you in a general way but no record makes anything of any sort obvious. Especially not “period”. Accelerated glacial melting over a long period and consecutive hottest years–it’s a shame you didn’t stop with just those two examples.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/workshop/foreclosures-huntsville-al-foreclosure-and-foreclosed-properties-for-real-estate-buyers Jeromy Lautzenheiser

    I ponder if it is going to be right? Could The Trump gonna run after pres? He’d obtain a bunch of votes!