From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll

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leo...@crai.com

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Mar 15, 2011, 9:06:55 AM3/15/11
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This ClimateWire story was sent to you by: leo...@crai.com

Personal message: I don't know if the article will transmit this way, but it seems to me to have the right focus. First, concern is way down. Second, the partisan split continues to be very deep. Third, the electorate's beliefs about causation (nuclear power plants, spray cans) shows that they remain incorrigibly ignorant. If you follow the poll results through time, you will know that the plunge in concern has happened in the past when the economy turned down. The numbers NEVER, though, approach those for issues that people really care about like employment, health care, and national security.

An E&E Publishing Service

PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll  (Tuesday, March 15, 2011)

Christa Marshall, E&E reporter

The percentage of Americans who say they are concerned about global warming and think it's a man-made problem remains at much lower levels than a few years ago, Gallup reported yesterday.

In its annual survey of environmental attitudes, the polling organization found that 51 percent of adults say they worry "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about the phenomenon, compared to 66 percent three years ago.

Similarly, the percentage of Americans who say that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, 43 percent, is 8 points higher than in 2008. Less than half of those surveyed say that global warming has "already begun to happen," compared to 61 percent three years ago.

Meanwhile, the percentage believing that increases in the Earth's temperature result from human pollution dropped almost 6 points over the same time frame, from 58 percent to 52 percent.

"Americans are clearly less concerned about global warming and its effects than they were a few years ago," Gallup said in a statement. "While concerns across various measures did not continue to trend downward this year, they generally held stable near historical lows."

The level of worry about global warming hovered above 60 percent between 2006 and 2009, with a steep decline occurring last year.

There are various explanations for the drop in concern, Gallup said, including the economic downturn and the inclination of Americans to worry less about environmental problems under Democratic presidents. The organization also hinted that "controversies about the integrity of the data and analysis offered by global warming proponents" could be at play in public attitudes.

Awareness grows even as concern drops

The so-called "Climategate" scandal, in which leaked e-mails in November 2009 showed bickering among climate scientists, coincided with some of the drop in worry about the issue.

Echoing many previous surveys, there remains a sharp partisan split in public opinion, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about warming temperatures, compared to 31 percent of Republicans. Independents are in the middle, at 51 percent.

The poll also found that Americans' claims of understanding and awareness about the issue have increased over time, even as concern about it has dropped. Eighty percent of adults now say they understand the issue "very well" or fairly well, a jump of 11 percentage points from a decade ago.

Even so, other research shows that Americans may not be as aware as they think.

An analysis from the Yale Project on Climate Change released last month, for example, reported that a majority of Americans, or 61 percent, think the ozone layer causes global warming by "a lot" or "some," while 54 percent say that aerosol spray cans are to blame. An additional 44 percent say erroneously that they think nuclear power plants cause warming temperatures.

"There is a huge gap between what experts know and what the public believes about this issue," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University professor who studies public opinion on climate change, in a recent interview.

The Gallup poll was conducted March 3-6 among 1,021 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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ClimateWire is written and produced by the staff of E&E Publishing, LLC. It is designed to provide comprehensive, daily coverage of all aspects of climate change issues. From international agreements on carbon emissions to alternative energy technologies to state and federal GHG programs, ClimateWire plugs readers into the information they need to stay abreast of this sprawling, complex issue.

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Ken Caldeira

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Mar 15, 2011, 10:19:08 AM3/15/11
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Here is a Gallup Poll saying that 40% of American's "believe" in biological evolution.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/Darwin-Birthday-Believe-Evolution.aspx

So, perhaps we can say that in the American mind, the fact that humans cause climate change is more certain than biological evolution.

Of course, all of this points to shocking scientific illiteracy on the part of the American populace. We are a modern nation mired in medieval beliefs.

Lane, Lee O.

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Mar 15, 2011, 12:30:36 PM3/15/11
to Roger Pielke, Jr., kcal...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Roger,
 
Your point about the issue not hinging on more expert supplied facts seems exactly right. 
 
What matters most is not what people think about the science; it is what they feel about the problem. The latter constrains political behavior. Some of the world political economy research shows that epistemic knowledge has remarkably little impact on the way that international regimes function and behave. I would be very surprised if the same were not also true of domestic politics. 
 
Year after year, the series of Gallup polls keep telling us that US voters, compared to the way they feel about other issues, simply do not much care about climate change. Office seekers must heed the priorities of the selectorate, and the selectorate, in this case, cares a lot more about other things than they do about climate change, and that generalization is even more true in economic hard times. The public's relative indifference  has withstood several scare movies and ever so many 'expert' claims that this or that disaster proved that the end is nigh. I wouldn't bet on this aspect of things changing any time soon.
 
Best,
 
Lee
 


From: Roger Pielke, Jr. [mailto:rpie...@gmail.com]
Sent: Tue 3/15/2011 10:29 AM
To: kcal...@gmail.com
Cc: Ken Caldeira; Lane, Lee O.; climatein...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll

Hi Ken-

It is easy for experts to look down their noses at a general public who does not share their particular expertise.  However, on subjects outside their own narrow specialized expertise, experts are generally as dumb as the general public (except that they often have more confidence in their incorrect beliefs;-).

The fact is that the public will never be expert in every topic for which society must make decisions, it is a logical impossibility.  So as EE Schattsschneider, the political scientist, well-articulated a half century ago, the political challenge is one of making good use of experts in a society where hundreds of millions of people get to participate in the democratic process. 

One way this is done is that experts bring policy options to the public for debate and decision.  Bringing evermore facts to the debate is not helpful.  The lack of debate over viable options is what is holding back the US, not an ignorant public.

Society routinely makes decisions on complex topics characterized by mixed public opinion and low public understanding.  Compared to other such situations (see my discussion in The Climate Fix) the state of public opinion on climate is not at all an obstacle to effective action.

On the other hand, complaining about the ignorant masses may be cathartic.

All best,

Roger

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Ken Caldeira

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Mar 15, 2011, 1:34:59 PM3/15/11
to Lane, Lee O., Roger Pielke, Jr., climatein...@googlegroups.com
I care a lot about relatively undisturbed natural environments and am averse to long-term and largely irreversible risks.

On the other hand, even if the United States could somehow magically cease all CO2 emissions today, there is a good chance this would have no detectable influence on climate in my lifetime.

At the same time, millions of Americans are out of work or underemployed. We are engaged in bloody wars without clear objectives and no end in sight. National debt is ballooning out of control. Crime and drugs are endemic problems in the inner cities. People are insecure about health care and how they will finance their retirement.

It is quite understandable that people would want to see near term returns on their investments and would not worry very much about problems that are unlikely to affect them personally in any clearly discernible way.

---

I am OK with people arguing against investing significant resources to address issues of climate change on the basis that their values differ from mine (i.e., different levels of risk aversiveness, different effective discount rates, etc).

What I am not OK with is arguments against investing these resources that depend on trying to undermine well-established scientific facts.  If we do not share facts, political discourse becomes corrupted (which has of course happened in this country).

People opposed to doing something about climate change have decided that it is good tactics to get people to question well-established scientific facts. While this tactic might help them win this particular battle, as a society it could cause us collectively to lose the war.

---

I would like to see us try to develop a discourse in which we are generous and assume (until shown otherwise) that we share the goal of improving human well-being while protecting the environment, but that we differ about how best to achieve these objectives. (Next, I'll start singing John Lennon songs: "You may say I'm a dreamer ..").

Andrew Lockley

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Mar 15, 2011, 1:46:43 PM3/15/11
to kcal...@gmail.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com

Ken,

I think you are blase about the risks. I think we could be about to repeat the 'great dying' and come close to wiping out all or almost all  advanced life on earth.

Until someone can prove this is not going to happen, I won't rest.

We need to properly model the methane feedback to constrain the risk.

A

>> What matters most is not what people *think* about the science; it is what
>> they *feel* about the problem. The latter constrains political behavior.

>> Some of the world political economy research shows that epistemic knowledge
>> has remarkably little impact on the way that international regimes function
>> and behave. I would be very surprised if the same were not also true of
>> domestic politics.
>>
>> Year after year, the series of Gallup polls keep telling us that US voters,
>> compared to the way they feel about other issues, simply do not much care
>> about climate change. Office seekers must heed the priorities of the
>> selectorate, and the selectorate, in this case, cares a lot more about other
>> things than they do about climate change, and that generalization is even
>> more true in economic hard times. The public's relative indifference has
>> withstood several scare movies and ever so many 'expert' claims that this or
>> that disaster *proved* that the end is nigh. I wouldn't bet on this aspect

>> of things changing any time soon.
>>
>> Best,
>>
>> Lee
>>
>>
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* Roger Pielke, Jr. [mailto:rpie...@gmail.com]
>> *Sent:* Tue 3/15/2011 10:29 AM
>> *To:* kcal...@gmail.com
>> *Cc:* Ken Caldeira; Lane, Lee O.; climatein...@googlegroups.com
>> *Subject:* Re: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans'
>>>> *This ClimateWire story was sent to you by: *leo...@crai.com
>>>>
>>>> *Personal message:* I don't know if the article will transmit this way,

>>>> but it seems to me to have the right focus. First, concern is way down.
>>>> Second, the partisan split continues to be very deep. Third, the
>>>> electorate's beliefs about causation (nuclear power plants, spray cans)
>>>> shows that they remain incorrigibly ignorant. If you follow the poll results
>>>> through time, you will know that the plunge in concern has happened in the
>>>> past when the economy turned down. The numbers NEVER, though, approach those
>>>> for issues that people really care about like employment, health care, and
>>>> national security.
>>>> [image: ClimateWire] <http://www.climatewire.net/>
>>>> for example, *reported*<http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/Knowledge_Across_Six_Americas.pdf>that a majority of Americans, or 61 percent, think the ozone layer causes

>>>> global warming by "a lot" or "some," while 54 percent say that aerosol spray
>>>> cans are to blame. An additional 44 percent say erroneously that they think
>>>> nuclear power plants cause warming temperatures.
>>>>
>>>> "There is a huge gap between what experts know and what the public
>>>> believes about this issue," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University
>>>> professor who studies public opinion on climate change, in a recent
>>>> interview.
>>>>
>>>> The Gallup poll was conducted March 3-6 among 1,021 adults. It has a
>>>> margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
>>>>
>>>> Want to read more stories like this?
>>>>
>>>> *Click here <http://www.eenews.net/trial/>* to start a free trial to E&E

>>>> -- the best way to track policy and markets.
>>>> About ClimateWire
>>>>
>>>> ClimateWire is written and produced by the staff of E&E Publishing, LLC.
>>>> It is designed to provide comprehensive, daily coverage of all aspects of
>>>> climate change issues. From international agreements on carbon emissions to
>>>> alternative energy technologies to state and federal GHG programs,
>>>> ClimateWire plugs readers into the information they need to stay abreast of
>>>> this sprawling, complex issue.
>>>>
>>>> E&E Publishing, LLC
>>>> 122 C St., Ste. 722, NW, Wash., D.C. 20001.
>>>> Phone: 202-628-6500. Fax: 202-737-5299.
>>>> www.eenews.net
>>>> All content is copyrighted and may not be reproduced or retransmitted
>>>> without the express consent of E&E Publishing, LLC. Click here<http://www.eenews.net/eep/learn_more/privacy_policy>to view our privacy policy.

Mike MacCracken

unread,
Mar 15, 2011, 3:12:11 PM3/15/11
to Lee Lane, Roger Pielke, Jr., Ken Caldeira, Ken Caldeira, Climate Intervention
Dear Lee—It seems to me the problem has been that addressing climate change is not sold as integral to addressing a lot of other issues. I liked the way that former President Bill Clinton put it in September 2007 in a speech to the Carbon Disclosure Project:

“Unless you're going to make it illegal for people to move their money around or illegal to buy something from some other country, you cannot maintain a growing economy with rising median wages over any significant length of time unless there is a source of good new jobs every five to eight years… this historic challenge we're facing from climate change is this decade's source of good new jobs for rich countries, and foolishly, the United States passed it up.”

Restructuring our energy system (just as in the recent past renewing our communication grid has been at the fore) has the potential to drive the economy allow resources going to energy inefficiency to go to other purposes, to spur innovation, to make the US less dependent on other nations for energy, to reduce the coming costly impacts of climate change, to ensure a better opportunity for future generations, to reduce pollution and health and environmental impacts, and more. It all has to be seen, and sold together, however—and that is really not being done very well. Instead, the vested interests are holding us back, taking us back from thinking to relying on sellers of snake oil, and creating a fear of changing and moving forward. Fear and nostalgia combined are not likely to win the day in the increasingly competitive world we are in.

Mike MacCracken

 <http://www.climatewire.net/>  
An E&E Publishing Service
PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll  (Tuesday, March 15, 2011)
Christa Marshall, E&E reporter
The percentage of Americans who say they are concerned about global warming and think it's a man-made problem remains at much lower levels than a few years ago, Gallup reported yesterday. In its annual survey of environmental attitudes, the polling organization found that 51 percent of adults say they worry "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about the phenomenon, compared to 66 percent three years ago. Similarly, the percentage of Americans who say that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, 43 percent, is 8 points higher than in 2008. Less than half of those surveyed say that global warming has "already begun to happen," compared to 61 percent three years ago. Meanwhile, the percentage believing that increases in the Earth's temperature result from human pollution dropped almost 6 points over the same time frame, from 58 percent to 52 percent. "Americans are clearly less concerned about global warming and its effects than they were a few years ago," Gallup said in a statement. "While concerns across various measures did not continue to trend downward this year, they generally held stable near historical lows." The level of worry about global warming hovered above 60 percent between 2006 and 2009, with a steep decline occurring last year. There are various explanations for the drop in concern, Gallup said, including the economic downturn and the inclination of Americans to worry less about environmental problems under Democratic presidents. The organization also hinted that "controversies about the integrity of the data and analysis offered by global warming proponents" could be at play in public attitudes.
Awareness grows even as concern drops
The so-called "Climategate" scandal, in which leaked e-mails in November 2009 showed bickering among climate scientists, coincided with some of the drop in worry about the issue. Echoing many previous surveys, there remains a sharp partisan split in public opinion, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about warming temperatures, compared to 31 percent of Republicans. Independents are in the middle, at 51 percent. The poll also found that Americans' claims of understanding and awareness about the issue have increased over time, even as concern about it has dropped. Eighty percent of adults now say they understand the issue "very well" or fairly well, a jump of 11 percentage points from a decade ago. Even so, other research shows that Americans may not be as aware as they think. An analysis from the Yale Project on Climate Change released last month, for example, reported <http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/Knowledge_Across_Six_Americas.pdf>  that a majority of Americans, or 61 percent, think the ozone layer causes global warming by "a lot" or "some," while 54 percent say that aerosol spray cans are to blame. An additional 44 percent say erroneously that they think nuclear power plants cause warming temperatures. "There is a huge gap between what experts know and what the public believes about this issue," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University professor who studies public opinion on climate change, in a recent interview. The Gallup poll was conducted March 3-6 among 1,021 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Want to read more stories like this?
Click here <http://www.eenews.net/trial/> to start a free trial to E&E -- the best way to track policy and markets.
About ClimateWire
ClimateWire is written and produced by the staff of E&E Publishing, LLC. It is designed to provide comprehensive, daily coverage of all aspects of climate change issues. From international agreements on carbon emissions to alternative energy technologies to state and federal GHG programs, ClimateWire plugs readers into the information they need to stay abreast of this sprawling, complex issue.
 E&E Publishing, LLC
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Phone: 202-628-6500. Fax: 202-737-5299.
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Dan Whaley

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Mar 15, 2011, 2:16:04 PM3/15/11
to Climate Intervention
Andrew--

What leads you to think that Ken is blase about the risks? Having
listened to him closely over the last five years, I give him credit
for being out in front of nearly everyone in his understanding and
communication of risk. If I recall correctly, risk reduction is his
primary justification for research into GE. Though I acknowledge
these aren't the same risks you're describing, I think the argument is
much more powerful stated this way.

What I read above is his very human understanding of where people are
at and the realities of communicating with them. I assume you
listened to Tony Leiserowitz's talk at Asilomar-- the most important
attention we can focus is on where people are at, category by
category, and what it will take to shift them. Different arguments
work for different people. We all need to think more carefully about
just who it is we're talking to. Who are the real stakeholders and
influencers that can unlock the policy and budget obstacles to put a
powerful research program into place, and how does one communicate to
them, both publicly and privately, in order to make that happen?

Having Ken run around advocating the coming of the next apocalypse is
not going to move the needle. It will marginalize the GE community as
a whole and make it easier to dismiss. Having said that, perhaps its
useful to have a few people lie closer to that fringe, so that the
rest of the voices sound more rational by comparison.

By the way, the litmus you require for falsifiability will never be
met--future conditions like that rarely are. You might take a closer
look at your statement. After all, mass extinctions have happened
before, and will almost certainly happen in the future, regardless of
human impacts. When the next one happens, will that have made you
right?

Dan


On Mar 15, 10:46 am, Andrew Lockley <andrew.lock...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Ken,
>
> I think you are blase about the risks. I think we could be about to repeat
> the 'great dying' and come close to wiping out all or almost all  advanced
> life on earth.
>
> Until someone can prove this is not going to happen, I won't rest.
>
> We need to properly model the methane feedback to constrain the risk.
>
> A
> >> *From:* Roger Pielke, Jr. [mailto:rpielk...@gmail.com]
> >> *Sent:* Tue 3/15/2011 10:29 AM
> >> *To:* kcalde...@gmail.com
> >>> On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 6:06 AM, <leol...@crai.com> wrote:
>
> >>>> *This ClimateWire story was sent to you by: *leol...@crai.com
> ...
>
> read more »

Lane, Lee O.

unread,
Mar 15, 2011, 2:36:34 PM3/15/11
to kcal...@stanford.edu, Roger Pielke, Jr., climatein...@googlegroups.com
Ken,
 
These points seem right to me. Of course, no analyst should ever to knowingly distort facts. And one certainly sees transgressions in the climate policy debate. Actually, it occurs on 'both sides,' if you will forgive the expression, with one side specializing in bad climate science and the other specializing in bad economic analysis.
 
I would add that scientists (or economists for that matter) should never seek to cloak as science or as economics pronouncements that, in fact, rest on the expert's personal values. The problem is especially acute when the expert knows that his preferences differ from those of the recipients of his advice. Your practice of stating value assumptions up front strikes me as being a very good one. It certainly makes it easier to sort out cases where discord springs from conflicting interpretations of fact or theory and where it reflects, instead, clashing preferences.
 
At least sometimes the resulting greater clarity allows people to disagree with less rancor -- though sometimes I think that I may be overly optimistic there.
 
Best,
 
Lee


From: Ken Caldeira [mailto:kcal...@gmail.com]
Sent: Tue 3/15/2011 1:34 PM
To: Lane, Lee O.
Cc: Roger Pielke, Jr.; climatein...@googlegroups.com

Lane, Lee O.

unread,
Mar 15, 2011, 3:09:57 PM3/15/11
to Mike MacCracken, Roger Pielke, Jr., Ken Caldeira, Ken Caldeira, Climate Intervention, richa...@esri.ie
Dear Mike,
 
That is an interesting point, and I think that you are right that the lack of strong public interest in climate does cause polities to link the issue to other causes. Richard Tol, a very thoughtful economist, has pointed out that one of the reasons that greenhouse gas controls end up costing so much is that they are seized upon as pretexts for serving so many other interests.
 
Thus, in the US, we subsidize or mandate the use of corn ethanol, wind farms, not ready for prime time solar panels, the Chevy Volt, impractical light bulbs, and all sorts of other things. These policies are justified as "good for climate change." The resulting market distortions  (as distinct from some R&D support that may make sense) actually raise the cost of curbing emissions compared with those of a simple carbon tax, but they generate economic rents for farmers, GE, Exelon the UAW, and many others. The notion that the 'special interests' are all on one side of the climate issue just will not bear scrutiny.
 
The fact that the public does not really care about the underlying issue all that much makes this kind of (two sided) special interest pandering all the more crucial to moving legislation. This is part of the reason that the Waxman Markey Bill ended up such a monstrosity, and it is also why the economists' fantasy of a clean carbon tax seems so unlikely to happen.
 
Best,
 
Lee


From: Mike MacCracken [mailto:mmac...@comcast.net]
Sent: Tue 3/15/2011 3:12 PM
To: Lane, Lee O.; Roger Pielke, Jr.; Ken Caldeira
Cc: Ken Caldeira; Climate Intervention

Eugene I. Gordon

unread,
Mar 15, 2011, 7:05:47 PM3/15/11
to leo...@crai.com, Roger Pielke, Jr., kcal...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, climatein...@googlegroups.com

You have all ignored the fact that the global warming enthusiasts decline to debate and whenever they do, quite infrequently, they come out at the short end. I think well advertised public debate attended by scientists and others who are allowed to ask questions would go a long way toward getting the public more interested and involved. Public debate is an important element of our democracy. If it is not done, the public interest goes elsewhere.

An E&E Publishing Service

PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll  (Tuesday, March 15, 2011)

Christa Marshall, E&E reporter

The percentage of Americans who say they are concerned about global warming and think it's a man-made problem remains at much lower levels than a few years ago, Gallup reported yesterday.

In its annual survey of environmental attitudes, the polling organization found that 51 percent of adults say they worry "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about the phenomenon, compared to 66 percent three years ago.

Similarly, the percentage of Americans who say that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, 43 percent, is 8 points higher than in 2008. Less than half of those surveyed say that global warming has "already begun to happen," compared to 61 percent three years ago.

Meanwhile, the percentage believing that increases in the Earth's temperature result from human pollution dropped almost 6 points over the same time frame, from 58 percent to 52 percent.

"Americans are clearly less concerned about global warming and its effects than they were a few years ago," Gallup said in a statement. "While concerns across various measures did not continue to trend downward this year, they generally held stable near historical lows."

The level of worry about global warming hovered above 60 percent between 2006 and 2009, with a steep decline occurring last year.

There are various explanations for the drop in concern, Gallup said, including the economic downturn and the inclination of Americans to worry less about environmental problems under Democratic presidents. The organization also hinted that "controversies about the integrity of the data and analysis offered by global warming proponents" could be at play in public attitudes.

Awareness grows even as concern drops

The so-called "Climategate" scandal, in which leaked e-mails in November 2009 showed bickering among climate scientists, coincided with some of the drop in worry about the issue.

Echoing many previous surveys, there remains a sharp partisan split in public opinion, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about warming temperatures, compared to 31 percent of Republicans. Independents are in the middle, at 51 percent.

The poll also found that Americans' claims of understanding and awareness about the issue have increased over time, even as concern about it has dropped. Eighty percent of adults now say they understand the issue "very well" or fairly well, a jump of 11 percentage points from a decade ago.

Even so, other research shows that Americans may not be as aware as they think.

An analysis from the Yale Project on Climate Change released last month, for example, reported that a majority of Americans, or 61 percent, think the ozone layer causes global warming by "a lot" or "some," while 54 percent say that aerosol spray cans are to blame. An additional 44 percent say erroneously that they think nuclear power plants cause warming temperatures.

"There is a huge gap between what experts know and what the public believes about this issue," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University professor who studies public opinion on climate change, in a recent interview.

The Gallup poll was conducted March 3-6 among 1,021 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Want to read more stories like this?

Click here to start a free trial to E&E -- the best way to track policy and markets.

About ClimateWire

ClimateWire is written and produced by the staff of E&E Publishing, LLC. It is designed to provide comprehensive, daily coverage of all aspects of climate change issues. From international agreements on carbon emissions to alternative energy technologies to state and federal GHG programs, ClimateWire plugs readers into the information they need to stay abreast of this sprawling, complex issue.

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Roger Pielke, Jr.

unread,
Mar 15, 2011, 10:29:12 AM3/15/11
to kcal...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Hi Ken-

It is easy for experts to look down their noses at a general public who does not share their particular expertise.  However, on subjects outside their own narrow specialized expertise, experts are generally as dumb as the general public (except that they often have more confidence in their incorrect beliefs;-).

The fact is that the public will never be expert in every topic for which society must make decisions, it is a logical impossibility.  So as EE Schattsschneider, the political scientist, well-articulated a half century ago, the political challenge is one of making good use of experts in a society where hundreds of millions of people get to participate in the democratic process. 

One way this is done is that experts bring policy options to the public for debate and decision.  Bringing evermore facts to the debate is not helpful.  The lack of debate over viable options is what is holding back the US, not an ignorant public.

Society routinely makes decisions on complex topics characterized by mixed public opinion and low public understanding.  Compared to other such situations (see my discussion in The Climate Fix) the state of public opinion on climate is not at all an obstacle to effective action.

On the other hand, complaining about the ignorant masses may be cathartic.

All best,

Roger

On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 8:19 AM, Ken Caldeira <kcal...@carnegie.stanford.edu> wrote:

Mike MacCracken

unread,
Mar 15, 2011, 8:38:44 PM3/15/11
to eugg...@comcast.net, Lee Lane, Roger Pielke, Jr., Ken Caldeira, Ken Caldeira, Climate Intervention
Dear Eugene—I have done many such joint appearances with deniers, and have finally concluded that they do not work very well because of just the formulation that you propose be used. Scientists are not “enthusiasts,” except for the truth—so we describe the findings and their strengths and weaknesses. That is what the IPCC presents—it is certainly not what one might call an enthusiast. Indeed, it is, consistent with the traditional scientific approach, quite cautious, not taking coming to conclusions without having substantial evidence (an important example of this is how cautious the IPCC was on its sea level projection). This is all clearest in the chapters, but it is also true in its presentation of the results in the Summary for Policymakers where there has been a requirement that all 190+ nations agree with the findings. I can assure you that in putting together findings where complete agreement is the tradition, the findings are not at the cutting edge of science where your “enthusiasts” would be.

In such joint appearances, I have tended to need to devote most of my time on the basic key points—CO2 is going up due to human activities, how the natural greenhouse effect works, etc. --and in reality this is all that matters in coming to a conclusion that action (of some type) needs to be considered. Meanwhile, the skeptical speakers most often pick out some detail and say this is not know with certainty—they do not generally start out by agreeing to the basics, making everything sound seriously uncertain—which is flat out misleading. In a problem as complex as we are dealing with, there are bound to be uncertainties, so it is easy to say that we don’t know exactly how much change will occur in some spot at some time—we agree, it is just that this is not the key question. As an example of a very misleading statement, Pat Michaels used to charge that global climate models were no better than random number generators. Very catchy, but based on a totally inappropriate test of a models performance—it took, however, much of an article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society to explain [see Michael C. MacCracken, Eric J. Barron, David R. Easterling, Benjamin S. Felzer, Thomas R. Karl, “Climate Change Scenarios for the U.S. National Assessment,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 84, Issue 12 (December 2003) pp. 1711-1723]. Similar problems in doing the detailed analysis for Santer et al. to explain the problems in Douglass et al. It is just not possible to deal with all of this in a brief debate.

Basically, I think, the difficulty is that scientists want to present the evidence rather than be given credit for their reputation, etc., whereas a debater against the science can seek to win based on charisma and arguments that are based on catchy (but wrong and/or misleading) phrases and even refuted papers, and demonstrating these are wrong with evidence and findings takes much more than can be done in the limited time. It is because of the challenge of doing it really well that scientists have chosen to have their debates go on in the literature where statements can be thoughtful and well-developed and flim-flam arguments can be looked at and thrown out.

In any case, science is not a debate—it is an analysis and careful consideration of findings. It may well be that the choice of policies can be debated in traditional ways, but not the science—that depends on objective analysis of results and findings, peer review, and going back and forth over time honing them through very careful discussions of the strengths and weaknesses, etc. We scientists may well need to make this all be of more interest to the the public, but going to simple debates is not the way to do it.

Mike MacCracken

Error! Filename not specified. <http://www.climatewire.net/>
An E&E Publishing Service

PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll  (Tuesday, March 15, 2011)
Christa Marshall, E&E reporter

The percentage of Americans who say they are concerned about global warming and think it's a man-made problem remains at much lower levels than a few years ago, Gallup reported yesterday.In its annual survey of environmental attitudes, the polling organization found that 51 percent of adults say they worry "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about the phenomenon, compared to 66 percent three years ago.Similarly, the percentage of Americans who say that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, 43 percent, is 8 points higher than in 2008. Less than half of those surveyed say that global warming has "already begun to happen," compared to 61 percent three years ago.Meanwhile, the percentage believing that increases in the Earth's temperature result from human pollution dropped almost 6 points over the same time frame, from 58 percent to 52 percent."Americans are clearly less concerned about global warming and its effects than they were a few years ago," Gallup said in a statement. "While concerns across various measures did not continue to trend downward this year, they generally held stable near historical lows."The level of worry about global warming hovered above 60 percent between 2006 and 2009, with a steep decline occurring last year.There are various explanations for the drop in concern, Gallup said, including the economic downturn and the inclination of Americans to worry less about environmental problems under Democratic presidents. The organization also hinted that "controversies about the integrity of the data and analysis offered by global warming proponents" could be at play in public attitudes.

Awareness grows even as concern drops

The so-called "Climategate" scandal, in which leaked e-mails in November 2009 showed bickering among climate scientists, coincided with some of the drop in worry about the issue.Echoing many previous surveys, there remains a sharp partisan split in public opinion, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about warming temperatures, compared to 31 percent of Republicans. Independents are in the middle, at 51 percent.The poll also found that Americans' claims of understanding and awareness about the issue have increased over time, even as concern about it has dropped. Eighty percent of adults now say they understand the issue "very well" or fairly well, a jump of 11 percentage points from a decade ago.Even so, other research shows that Americans may not be as aware as they think.An analysis from the Yale Project on Climate Change released last month, for example, reported <http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/Knowledge_Across_Six_Americas.pdf>  that a majority of Americans, or 61 percent, think the ozone layer causes global warming by "a lot" or "some," while 54 percent say that aerosol spray cans are to blame. An additional 44 percent say erroneously that they think nuclear power plants cause warming temperatures."There is a huge gap between what experts know and what the public believes about this issue," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University professor who studies public opinion on climate change, in a recent interview.The Gallup poll was conducted March 3-6 among 1,021 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Want to read more stories like this?

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About ClimateWire
ClimateWire is written and produced by the staff of E&E Publishing, LLC. It is designed to provide comprehensive, daily coverage of all aspects of climate change issues. From international agreements on carbon emissions to alternative energy technologies to state and federal GHG programs, ClimateWire plugs readers into the information they need to stay abreast of this sprawling, complex issue.

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Rau, Greg

unread,
Mar 16, 2011, 12:21:57 AM3/16/11
to rpie...@gmail.com, kcal...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Good to hear that "..the state of public opinion is not at all an obstacle to effective action." This then narrows down the problem of effective decision making to politicians, and more specifically Republican politicians, all of whom today in the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted down an amendment acknowledging that climate change is even occurring (regardless of cause):
http://climateprogress.org/2011/03/15/rep-burgess-r-tx-cites-unscientific-online-poll-as-evidence-against-climate-science/#more-44575

This blatant disregard of evidence, scientific and otherwise, I find truly breathtaking given what is at stake for this planet. Is seems clear to me that public opinion and especially scientific opinion can now be ignored with impunity by congressional leadership, apparently thanks to a very effective lobbying/disinformation campaign, a very compliant media, and limitless corporate campaign contributions, all fueled by by a bottomless pit of vested interest money. Reason alone is not going to be enough to change this picture. The only hope is to communicate the concepts to the voting masses on an emotional level, employing skills far outside of science, as the deniers have so skillfully demonstrated. The sooner we realize that this is not a debate about science, but a debate about risk to future national security, jobs, health, and prosperity, the sooner political traction might be achieved. This is not going to happen with another thick, technical IPCC, NAS, or TRS report without also employing the communication and marketing skills of Hollywood, Madison Ave, and K Street. Additionally or alternatively (and perhaps more cheaply) we can take our arguments to court, assuming that future generations have standing...

-Greg
________________________________________
From: climatein...@googlegroups.com [climatein...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Roger Pielke, Jr. [rpie...@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 7:29 AM
To: kcal...@gmail.com
Cc: Ken Caldeira; leo...@crai.com; climatein...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll

Hi Ken-

It is easy for experts to look down their noses at a general public who does not share their particular expertise. However, on subjects outside their own narrow specialized expertise, experts are generally as dumb as the general public (except that they often have more confidence in their incorrect beliefs;-).

The fact is that the public will never be expert in every topic for which society must make decisions, it is a logical impossibility. So as EE Schattsschneider, the political scientist, well-articulated a half century ago, the political challenge is one of making good use of experts in a society where hundreds of millions of people get to participate in the democratic process.

One way this is done is that experts bring policy options to the public for debate and decision. Bringing evermore facts to the debate is not helpful. The lack of debate over viable options is what is holding back the US, not an ignorant public.

Society routinely makes decisions on complex topics characterized by mixed public opinion and low public understanding. Compared to other such situations (see my discussion in The Climate Fix) the state of public opinion on climate is not at all an obstacle to effective action.

On the other hand, complaining about the ignorant masses may be cathartic.

All best,

Roger

On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 8:19 AM, Ken Caldeira <kcal...@carnegie.stanford.edu<mailto:kcal...@carnegie.stanford.edu>> wrote:
Here is a Gallup Poll saying that 40% of American's "believe" in biological evolution.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/Darwin-Birthday-Believe-Evolution.aspx

So, perhaps we can say that in the American mind, the fact that humans cause climate change is more certain than biological evolution.

Of course, all of this points to shocking scientific illiteracy on the part of the American populace. We are a modern nation mired in medieval beliefs.

On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 6:06 AM, <leo...@crai.com<mailto:leo...@crai.com>> wrote:

This ClimateWire story was sent to you by: leo...@crai.com<mailto:leo...@crai.com>

Personal message: I don't know if the article will transmit this way, but it seems to me to have the right focus. First, concern is way down. Second, the partisan split continues to be very deep. Third, the electorate's beliefs about causation (nuclear power plants, spray cans) shows that they remain incorrigibly ignorant. If you follow the poll results through time, you will know that the plunge in concern has happened in the past when the economy turned down. The numbers NEVER, though, approach those for issues that people really care about like employment, health care, and national security.

<http://www.climatewire.net>


An E&E Publishing Service
PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll (Tuesday, March 15, 2011)
Christa Marshall, E&E reporter

The percentage of Americans who say they are concerned about global warming and think it's a man-made problem remains at much lower levels than a few years ago, Gallup reported yesterday.

In its annual survey of environmental attitudes, the polling organization found that 51 percent of adults say they worry "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about the phenomenon, compared to 66 percent three years ago.

Similarly, the percentage of Americans who say that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, 43 percent, is 8 points higher than in 2008. Less than half of those surveyed say that global warming has "already begun to happen," compared to 61 percent three years ago.

Meanwhile, the percentage believing that increases in the Earth's temperature result from human pollution dropped almost 6 points over the same time frame, from 58 percent to 52 percent.

"Americans are clearly less concerned about global warming and its effects than they were a few years ago," Gallup said in a statement. "While concerns across various measures did not continue to trend downward this year, they generally held stable near historical lows."

The level of worry about global warming hovered above 60 percent between 2006 and 2009, with a steep decline occurring last year.

There are various explanations for the drop in concern, Gallup said, including the economic downturn and the inclination of Americans to worry less about environmental problems under Democratic presidents. The organization also hinted that "controversies about the integrity of the data and analysis offered by global warming proponents" could be at play in public attitudes.

Awareness grows even as concern drops

The so-called "Climategate" scandal, in which leaked e-mails in November 2009 showed bickering among climate scientists, coincided with some of the drop in worry about the issue.

Echoing many previous surveys, there remains a sharp partisan split in public opinion, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about warming temperatures, compared to 31 percent of Republicans. Independents are in the middle, at 51 percent.

The poll also found that Americans' claims of understanding and awareness about the issue have increased over time, even as concern about it has dropped. Eighty percent of adults now say they understand the issue "very well" or fairly well, a jump of 11 percentage points from a decade ago.

Even so, other research shows that Americans may not be as aware as they think.

An analysis from the Yale Project on Climate Change released last month, for example, reported<http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/Knowledge_Across_Six_Americas.pdf> that a majority of Americans, or 61 percent, think the ozone layer causes global warming by "a lot" or "some," while 54 percent say that aerosol spray cans are to blame. An additional 44 percent say erroneously that they think nuclear power plants cause warming temperatures.

"There is a huge gap between what experts know and what the public believes about this issue," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University professor who studies public opinion on climate change, in a recent interview.

The Gallup poll was conducted March 3-6 among 1,021 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Want to read more stories like this?

Click here<http://www.eenews.net/trial/> to start a free trial to E&E -- the best way to track policy and markets.

About ClimateWire

ClimateWire is written and produced by the staff of E&E Publishing, LLC. It is designed to provide comprehensive, daily coverage of all aspects of climate change issues. From international agreements on carbon emissions to alternative energy technologies to state and federal GHG programs, ClimateWire plugs readers into the information they need to stay abreast of this sprawling, complex issue.

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Eugene I. Gordon

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Mar 16, 2011, 8:28:41 AM3/16/11
to rpie...@gmail.com, kcal...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com

Ken:

Roger Pielke makes the point very well; indeed the same point I have been making about debate here and had been making on Dot Earth (on deaf ears). In elections debate is critical because people have partly made up their minds about candidates. Same on climate. The climate science community won’t stoop to public debate on the science or on geoengineering. When they have they have lost the debate. In my opinion that is your mission on behalf of this group. Inspire public debate and let the public get it straight.

 

-gene!

 

From: climatein...@googlegroups.com [mailto:climatein...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Roger Pielke, Jr.


Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 10:29 AM
To: kcal...@gmail.com
Cc: Ken Caldeira; leo...@crai.com; climatein...@googlegroups.com

Subject: Re: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll

 

Hi Ken-

It is easy for experts to look down their noses at a general public who does not share their particular expertise.  However, on subjects outside their own narrow specialized expertise, experts are generally as dumb as the general public (except that they often have more confidence in their incorrect beliefs;-).

The fact is that the public will never be expert in every topic for which society must make decisions, it is a logical impossibility.  So as EE Schattsschneider, the political scientist, well-articulated a half century ago, the political challenge is one of making good use of experts in a society where hundreds of millions of people get to participate in the democratic process. 

One way this is done is that experts bring policy options to the public for debate and decision.  Bringing evermore facts to the debate is not helpful.  The lack of debate over viable options is what is holding back the US, not an ignorant public.

Society routinely makes decisions on complex topics characterized by mixed public opinion and low public understanding.  Compared to other such situations (see my discussion in The Climate Fix) the state of public opinion on climate is not at all an obstacle to effective action.

On the other hand, complaining about the ignorant masses may be cathartic.

All best,

Roger

On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 8:19 AM, Ken Caldeira <kcal...@carnegie.stanford.edu> wrote:

Here is a Gallup Poll saying that 40% of American's "believe" in biological evolution.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/Darwin-Birthday-Believe-Evolution.aspx

So, perhaps we can say that in the American mind, the fact that humans cause climate change is more certain than biological evolution.

Of course, all of this points to shocking scientific illiteracy on the part of the American populace. We are a modern nation mired in medieval beliefs.

On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 6:06 AM, <leo...@crai.com> wrote:

This ClimateWire story was sent to you by: leo...@crai.com

Personal message: I don't know if the article will transmit this way, but it seems to me to have the right focus. First, concern is way down. Second, the partisan split continues to be very deep. Third, the electorate's beliefs about causation (nuclear power plants, spray cans) shows that they remain incorrigibly ignorant. If you follow the poll results through time, you will know that the plunge in concern has happened in the past when the economy turned down. The numbers NEVER, though, approach those for issues that people really care about like employment, health care, and national security.

An E&E Publishing Service

PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll  (Tuesday, March 15, 2011)

Christa Marshall, E&E reporter

The percentage of Americans who say they are concerned about global warming and think it's a man-made problem remains at much lower levels than a few years ago, Gallup reported yesterday.

In its annual survey of environmental attitudes, the polling organization found that 51 percent of adults say they worry "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about the phenomenon, compared to 66 percent three years ago.

Similarly, the percentage of Americans who say that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, 43 percent, is 8 points higher than in 2008. Less than half of those surveyed say that global warming has "already begun to happen," compared to 61 percent three years ago.

Meanwhile, the percentage believing that increases in the Earth's temperature result from human pollution dropped almost 6 points over the same time frame, from 58 percent to 52 percent.

"Americans are clearly less concerned about global warming and its effects than they were a few years ago," Gallup said in a statement. "While concerns across various measures did not continue to trend downward this year, they generally held stable near historical lows."

The level of worry about global warming hovered above 60 percent between 2006 and 2009, with a steep decline occurring last year.

There are various explanations for the drop in concern, Gallup said, including the economic downturn and the inclination of Americans to worry less about environmental problems under Democratic presidents. The organization also hinted that "controversies about the integrity of the data and analysis offered by global warming proponents" could be at play in public attitudes.

Awareness grows even as concern drops

The so-called "Climategate" scandal, in which leaked e-mails in November 2009 showed bickering among climate scientists, coincided with some of the drop in worry about the issue.

Echoing many previous surveys, there remains a sharp partisan split in public opinion, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about warming temperatures, compared to 31 percent of Republicans. Independents are in the middle, at 51 percent.

The poll also found that Americans' claims of understanding and awareness about the issue have increased over time, even as concern about it has dropped. Eighty percent of adults now say they understand the issue "very well" or fairly well, a jump of 11 percentage points from a decade ago.

Even so, other research shows that Americans may not be as aware as they think.

An analysis from the Yale Project on Climate Change released last month, for example, reported that a majority of Americans, or 61 percent, think the ozone layer causes global warming by "a lot" or "some," while 54 percent say that aerosol spray cans are to blame. An additional 44 percent say erroneously that they think nuclear power plants cause warming temperatures.

"There is a huge gap between what experts know and what the public believes about this issue," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale University professor who studies public opinion on climate change, in a recent interview.

The Gallup poll was conducted March 3-6 among 1,021 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Want to read more stories like this?

Click here to start a free trial to E&E -- the best way to track policy and markets.

About ClimateWire

ClimateWire is written and produced by the staff of E&E Publishing, LLC. It is designed to provide comprehensive, daily coverage of all aspects of climate change issues. From international agreements on carbon emissions to alternative energy technologies to state and federal GHG programs, ClimateWire plugs readers into the information they need to stay abreast of this sprawling, complex issue.

Error! Filename not specified.

E&E Publishing, LLC
122 C St., Ste. 722, NW, Wash., D.C. 20001.
Phone: 202-628-6500. Fax: 202-737-5299.
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Veli Albert Kallio

unread,
Mar 16, 2011, 10:09:16 AM3/16/11
to eugg...@comcast.net, rpie...@gmail.com, kcal...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, leo...@crai.com, Climateintervention FIPC, Tom Spencer
 
"Here is a Gallup Poll saying that 40% of American's "believe" in biological evolution."

Brilliant !  Well, it is always reassuring to recognise that still the majority of Americans believe in the climate change.
 
What I sometimes find interesting that the fossil fuel businesses do court church organisations and give them money for church missions and then tapping on the shoulders that "the climate change is a conspiracy against the church" and we are together with you. But when the same folks talk to the scientists they talk that it took millions of years for the Pleistocene ice come and go, so there is no worries it will melt soon, we have millennia or couple time to sort it out ...  So, there is sort of them acting double agents and playing the creationists and evolutionists bagging into the same sack. Although I find that clever of them, it is totally deplorable -- and utterly disgusting ploy.
 
I seek anyone expertise or connections to methane emissions from the permafrost and seabed, now and pleistocene. I believe there were massive emissions of methane-derived carbon-12 and carbon-13 leaking to air associated to the end of the ice age. I'd like to test the reliability of carbon-14 dates checking the presumed decay rates against the tree-rings. 5000 year old tree has only 50% of its carbon-14 left in the core, 1,000 year old tree has seen 20% of carbon-14 half life passing, 500 year old 10% and 300 year old tree about 5%.
 
If there are strong deviations from the expected statistical decay between rings, this tells the amount of methane from arctic sea beds and permafrost grounds, and volcanoes. There are 22,000 holes on the ground oozing out the stuff which must have been digested by the trees and therefore their carbon-14 ratios being affected from year-to-year. Any help on this matter would be appreciated.
 
kr, Albert

 

From: eugg...@comcast.net
To: rpie...@gmail.com; kcal...@gmail.com
CC: kcal...@carnegie.stanford.edu; leo...@crai.com; climatein...@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2011 08:28:41 -0400

Ken Caldeira

unread,
Mar 16, 2011, 11:45:26 AM3/16/11
to Rau, Greg, rpie...@gmail.com, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Roger,

I am with Greg on this one.  Bringing more facts to the debate is not helpful?

It is rather shocking that you do not seem to believe that an effective democracy depends on having an informed population.

Best,

Ken

Mike MacCracken

unread,
Mar 16, 2011, 12:04:15 PM3/16/11
to Greg Rau, rpie...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, Ken Caldeira, Lee Lane, Climate Intervention
Dear Greg (et al.)--

It is interesting to contrast the dismissive views of many Republicans about
the science of climate change with their views about relooking at nuclear
power given the situation in Japan. On this, they seem to be saying let's
not take action or even relook at what we are doing regarding nuclear power
and that we should wait for careful scientific analysis of the situation,
which they seem to expect will indicate that the threats have been overblown
and so further nuclear development can go forward.

While many of us may see inconsistency in their use of science, perhaps
their apparent sense that the views are consistent needs to be thought
about a bit more. Might it be that they are coming from a perspective that
the environment (Mother Nature) can overcome any insult (i.e., 'puny little
man cannot impact God's great Earth'--to quote from the late Dixie Lee Ray),
that they are against alarmism of any kind (but they are alarmist on the
deficit, so that may be unlikely), that they do not go against the interests
of big business, that they have total faith in the benefits of technological
development of any kind, that they just don't like regulations of any kind,
that Democrats are for it so they are against it, or what else? Might it be
that we are not understanding their actions and positions because of the
framing that we have (or our framing engenders an unduly negative response),
and we need to reframe the debate as Bill Clinton tried in the quote sent
around yesterday, or the way the Catholic Bishops tried to do in their
statement nearly a decade ago (see
http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/globalclimate.shtml
)? I tried explaining this all, at least to myself, in a paper (copy
attached) about how differing perspectives may be contributing to the
contention, suggesting that what we need are leaders who are able to
reconcile the key elements of the multiple perspectives, each of which can
in some ways be legitimately argued, but yet each of which has significant
blind spots. Former governors Pataki (NY) and Schwarzenegger (CA) have done
this better than others, in my view, and actually made some progress, but
more reconciliation across perspectives is needed.

Mike MacCracken

> climatein...@googlegroups.com<mailto:climateintervention@googlegroups.c


> om>.
> To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
> climateinterven...@googlegroups.com<mailto:climateintervention%2B

> unsub...@googlegroups.com>.

13_MacCracken.pdf

Roger Pielke, Jr.

unread,
Mar 16, 2011, 12:04:15 PM3/16/11
to kcal...@stanford.edu, Ken Caldeira, Rau, Greg, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Hi Ken-

I am a college professor, so yes I greatly value education.

I simply think that you are mistaken if you think that waging a highly
politicized public battle over the science is going to help lead to
the political outcomes that you desire. In fact, it may do the
opposite while harming institutions of science. Research often
uncovers inconvenient realities and this is one of them. Bringing more
facts to the debate is in fact often not helpful.

Have a look at this excellent paper by Dan Sarewitz which presents
exactly this argument:

Daniel Sarewitz, How science makes environmental controversies worse,
Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 7, October 2004, Pages 385-403,
ISSN 1462-9011, DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2004.06.001.
http://www.cspo.org/documents/environ_controv.pdf

All best,

Roger

Ken Caldeira

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Mar 16, 2011, 12:22:10 PM3/16/11
to Roger Pielke, Jr., Rau, Greg, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
I have no interest in a highly politicized battle over science.

I have an interest in the political process recognizing scientific facts.

Magnus Westerstrand

unread,
Mar 16, 2011, 12:16:09 PM3/16/11
to kcal...@gmail.com, Rau, Greg, rpie...@gmail.com, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
If the public is informed on the facts of the question that will affect the politics on that question. Just looking at the tobacco and fossil fuel strategies that have leaked to the public it seams like they have drawn the same conclusion, and as a result of that are trying to distort the facts. Looking at different counties reactions also leads me to the same conclusion... Getting the facts straight and having a media that follows up on them is very important.

2011/3/16 Ken Caldeira <kcal...@gmail.com>

Roger Pielke, Jr.

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Mar 16, 2011, 12:37:04 PM3/16/11
to Ken Caldeira, Rau, Greg, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Hi Ken-

Often there is no practical difference between efforts to get "the
political process recognizing scientific facts" and "a highly
politicized battle over science."

Saying so does not make it any more true -- any more so that the US
House trying to legislate the reality of human influences on the
climate system.

But perhaps this exchange can help you to understand better the
position of "climate deniers" --- climate science is not the only area
of robust research that people wish were not true ;-)

All best,

Roger

Christopher Green, Prof.

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Mar 16, 2011, 12:53:15 PM3/16/11
to kcal...@gmail.com, Roger Pielke, Jr., Rau, Greg, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com

Ken, Roger,

 

    Without attempting to resolve this debate perhaps I may be permitted to make the following observation.

 

    The same IPCC that has done yeoman work, in my opinion, in setting out and explaining the climate science behind anthropogenic climate change (WG I) also said in defiance of the evidence I believe, that the technologies to solve the problem are available, that the cost of doing so with these technologies is low, and that the barriers were political-institutional and socio-economic not technological (WG III). (The WG III view appeared in both the TAR and in a somewhat modified form in AR4.)  

 

   Now, I believe that much, perhaps most of the public believe (correctly) that the needed technologies are not available (and won’t be even with exemplary scientific/engineering estimates for many years) and that the costs of mitigation without them would be prohibitively costly. If this is the case, then faced with oft-repeated claims that suggest dire results if we do not mitigate quickly, is it really surprising that many turn to denial. And the easiest target for denial (albeit unjustified) is the climate science. How different is this from the many in California who demonstrate “cognitive dissonance” by rating the probability of a very big and highly damaging, earthquake much lower than scientific estimates that rate it quite high in the next 30 years?

 

    Chris Green

 

 

 


From: climatein...@googlegroups.com [mailto:climatein...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Ken Caldeira


Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:22 PM
To: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Lane, Lee O.

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Mar 16, 2011, 1:12:26 PM3/16/11
to kcal...@stanford.edu, Rau, Greg, rpie...@gmail.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Ken,
 
Much of the political economy literature argues that, voters are, at best, rationally ignorant on most issues. Indeed, Bryan Caplan suggests that they may be in the grip of distorting ideologies. Office seekers, naturally, must cater to the tastes of those who select them. So they shape policies to please the voters not to advance their welfare.
 
To anybody who wants to learn a bit more, the late Mancur Olson's classic, The Logic of Collective Action, might be one starting placeMore recently Douglas Arnold's answer and amendment to Olson is, The Logic of Congressional Action. Bryan Caplan's book The Myth of The Rational Voter is more recent still and adds some new features to the debate.
 
The debate is long-running and complex, but, when one reads poll results saying that people think that climate change is caused by spray cans and nuclear power plants, the results suggest that the problem stems from something other than the shortage of facts. (Anyone who made the slightest effort could do better than that.) Rather the voters appear to be behaving in ways that scholars like Olson and Caplan suggest that they do. None of this argues that, for analysts, facts and rigor do not matter, but it does say that they do not matter much in election campaigns, and such campaigns do shape and constrain a lot of the action in the policy sphere.  
 
Lee 


From: Ken Caldeira [mailto:kcal...@gmail.com]
Sent: Wed 3/16/2011 11:45 AM
To: Rau, Greg
Cc: rpie...@gmail.com; Lane, Lee O.; climatein...@googlegroups.com

Magnus Westerstrand

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Mar 16, 2011, 1:17:59 PM3/16/11
to leo...@crai.com, kcal...@stanford.edu, Rau, Greg, rpie...@gmail.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
That is if you have a system that lets you claim false things over and over again without being hold responsible for them. It is one thing to just discover the facts and something else to get the public to understand them. It is no slump that the ones trying to hold back regulation is aiming at distorting the science.

-MW

2011/3/16 Lane, Lee O. <leo...@crai.com>

Peter Ward

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Mar 16, 2011, 1:59:28 PM3/16/11
to magnus.we...@gmail.com, leo...@crai.com, kcal...@stanford.edu, Rau, Greg, rpie...@gmail.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (2010) by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway is a well written and researched documentation of the profession of sowing seeds of doubt about science among the general public. It is a good read and has much to add to this discussion.
Peter Ward

Eugene I. Gordon

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Mar 16, 2011, 4:12:45 PM3/16/11
to rpie...@gmail.com, Ken Caldeira, Rau, Greg, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com
I have great difficulty deciphering these exchanges. Most of you are arguing
out of your league. Stick to what you know which is science and education
and do what you can to make sure the public is informed. Public debate by
climate scientists and related experts is an excellent method to inform the
public.
-Leave it at that.
-What should the public learn?
----Climate science is at an early stage
----Anthropogenic CO2 and its numerical impact on global warming is a
hypothesis that is hardly robust.
----Scientific truth is achieved by a strict method that has been practiced
for of order 500 years and that method has not been applied yet to climate
science.
-Climate science can only be credible when there is a Theory
-There is no established, recognized Theory of global warming and
anthropogenic CO2.
-The rest is hot air.

-----Original Message-----
From: climatein...@googlegroups.com
[mailto:climatein...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Roger Pielke, Jr.
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:37 PM
To: Ken Caldeira
Cc: Rau, Greg; leo...@crai.com; climatein...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans'
concern about global warming still cooling -- poll

Hi Ken-

Often there is no practical difference between efforts to get "the

All best,

Roger

climatein...@googlegroups.com<mailto:climateintervention@googlegroups

Eugene I. Gordon

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Mar 16, 2011, 4:21:30 PM3/16/11
to chris...@mcgill.ca, kcal...@gmail.com, Roger Pielke, Jr., Rau, Greg, leo...@crai.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com

Prof. Green, an economist, is doing what we all do – talk out of our area of expertise. Why don’t we stick to geoengineering and climate science instead of ranging into psychology? We should think hard about how to inform the public and what we want to tell the public.

Josh Horton

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Mar 16, 2011, 5:44:04 PM3/16/11
to Climate Intervention
But aren't "the facts" the problem? Climate science tells us that
we're headed toward disaster, and economics tells us that
decarbonizing the world economy with current and foreseeable
technology is prohibitively costly. Both of these things are true and
produce deadlock. The beauty of geoengineering is that it resolves
this standoff, acknowledging that we cannot solve the problem with
conventional mitigation, but also asserting that something must be
done to avert catastrophe. I think geoengineering has great potential
to bridge many of the gaps Mike talks about - just look at the
diversity of viewpoints in this group.

Josh Horton


On Mar 16, 4:21 pm, "Eugene I. Gordon" <euggor...@comcast.net> wrote:
> Prof. Green, an economist, is doing what we all do - talk out of our area of
> From: climatein...@googlegroups.com
> [mailto:climatein...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Ken Caldeira
> Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:22 PM
> To: Roger Pielke, Jr.
> Cc: Rau, Greg; leol...@crai.com; climatein...@googlegroups.com
> Subject: Re: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans'
> concern about global warming still cooling -- poll
>
> I have no interest in a highly politicized battle over science.
>
> I have an interest in the political process recognizing scientific facts.
>
> On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 9:04 AM, Roger Pielke, Jr. <rpielk...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> Hi Ken-
>
> I am a college professor, so yes I greatly value education.
>
> I simply think that you are mistaken if you think that waging a highly
> politicized public battle over the science is going to help lead to
> the political outcomes that you desire.  In fact, it may do the
> opposite while harming institutions of science.  Research often
> uncovers inconvenient realities and this is one of them. Bringing more
> facts to the debate is in fact often not helpful.
>
> Have a look at this excellent paper by Dan Sarewitz which presents
> exactly this argument:
>
> Daniel Sarewitz, How science makes environmental controversies worse,
> Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 7, October 2004, Pages 385-403,
> ISSN 1462-9011, DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2004.06.001.http://www.cspo.org/documents/environ_controv.pdf
>
> All best,
>
> Roger
>
>
>
>
>
> On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 9:45 AM, Ken Caldeira <kcalde...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Roger,
>
> > I am with Greg on this one.  Bringing more facts to the debate is not
> > helpful?
>
> > It is rather shocking that you do not seem to believe that an effective
> > democracy depends on having an informed population.
>
> > Best,
>
> > Ken
>
> > On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 9:21 PM, Rau, Greg <r...@llnl.gov> wrote:
>
> >> Good to hear that "..the state of public opinion is not at all an
> obstacle
> >> to effective action."  This then narrows down the problem of effective
> >> decision making to politicians, and more specifically Republican
> >> politicians, all of whom today in the House  Energy and Commerce
> Committee
> >> voted down an amendment acknowledging that climate change is even
> occurring
> >> (regardless of cause):
>
> http://climateprogress.org/2011/03/15/rep-burgess-r-tx-cites-unscient...
> line-poll-as-evidence-against-climate-science/#more-44575
> >> [rpielk...@gmail.com]
> >> Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 7:29 AM
> >> To: kcalde...@gmail.com
> >> Cc: Ken Caldeira; leol...@crai.com; climatein...@googlegroups.com
> >> <kcalde...@carnegie.stanford.edu<mailto:kcalde...@carnegie.stanford.edu>>
> >> wrote:
> >> Here is a Gallup Poll saying that 40% of American's "believe" in
> >> biological evolution.
>
> >>http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/Darwin-Birthday-Believe-Evolution.aspx
>
> >> So, perhaps we can say that in the American mind, the fact that humans
> >> cause climate change is more certain than biological evolution.
>
> >> Of course, all of this points to shocking scientific illiteracy on the
> >> part of the American populace. We are a modern nation mired in medieval
> >> beliefs.
>
> >> On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 6:06 AM,
> >> <leol...@crai.com<mailto:leol...@crai.com>> wrote:
>
> >> This ClimateWire story was sent to you by:
> >> leol...@crai.com<mailto:leol...@crai.com>
> ...
>
> read more »- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

David Keith

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Mar 16, 2011, 6:06:44 PM3/16/11
to joshuah...@gmail.com, Climate Intervention

Let me try a dose of moderation.

 

1. Climate science is not tell us that we are "headed towards disaster". It tells us--albeit-- with substantial uncertainty in both directions, that if we do nothing to restrain emissions then we are headed to climate changes that are by some important physical measures fast and large. Social science tells us—with more uncertainty—that for most of us this will be bad, for some extremely bad and for some good. Impacts on national average basis are expected to be of order a few percent of GDP equivalent. You may think this is disaster. In some respects I agree with you. I most certainty agree about rapid action to restrain emissions. But I know that drawing this conclusion requires me to put my values in. And in democracy we have to concede--nay celebrate--that our values count no more and no less than anyone else's.

 

è Science cannot leap from fact to value.

 

2. Likewise, economics does not tell us that "decarbonizing the world economy with current and foreseeable technology is prohibitively costly". Indeed quite the opposite, standard economic study suggest that the cost to decarbonize the world economy amount to a few percent GDP.

 

Here are two ways in which our politics are stuck:

 

First, some groups--in this case the Greens--have hitched a host of other bandwagons to the climate horse. In caricature: they want decarbonization but only if it's achieved with small renewables, solar on roofs, and a new broad reshaping of politics in industrial democracies. Adding all these requirements greatly increases the costs making this outcome politically infeasible.

 

Second, some other groups--let's call them the Browns--have chosen to attack the climate science, and more generally attack the role of scientific rationality as a touchstone in democratic decision-making, rather than taking the more honest but less effective course of accepting the science but disagreeing about the value of action.

 

Both sides now seem to feel that they can further their ends by turning up the volume:

 

The Browns say the climate science is all bunk though smart folks in this camp don't actually believe this claim.

 

Likewise, the Green say action will be cheap and inaction will be disastrous, though smart folks in this camp don't actually believe this claim.

 

Obviously I am drawing simple caricatures. Real-world opinions are for more nuanced.

 

Maybe it's because I live in an oil town in my neighbors work in the industries that I aim to terminate, but I do believe that we will not make progress simply by shouting louder. Compromise is necessary on both sides.

 

David

 

-----
From: climatein...@googlegroups.com [mailto:climatein...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Josh Horton
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 3:44 PM
To: Climate Intervention
Subject: [clim] Re: From ClimateWire -- PUBLIC OPINION: Americans' concern about global warming still cooling -- poll

--

Eugene I. Gordon

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Mar 16, 2011, 6:08:05 PM3/16/11
to magnus.we...@gmail.com, leo...@crai.com, kcal...@stanford.edu, Rau, Greg, rpie...@gmail.com, climatein...@googlegroups.com

We do not have an effective democracy. Indeed democracy is a terrible form of government except that it is better than all the others. Democracy  is not compatible with the nature of mankind since man is fundamentally selfish.  However, despite being misinformed and lied to by politicians, companies, organizations  and the media, Americans tend to do enough for our democracy to survive. A better media would help a lot and it is failing. In my strongly held view both sides of the issue are distorting the science for their own selfish aims. There are no good guys and bad guys. Most are bad, which is the way nature made it. Thank God for the few straight shooters. Now you can pat yourselves on the back and count yourself as a straight shooter.

Eugene I. Gordon

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Mar 16, 2011, 7:46:27 PM3/16/11
to joshuah...@gmail.com, Climate Intervention
CLIMATE SCIENCE TELLS US NOTHING. Climate scientists tell us that we are
heading toward disaster; misstating and misusing immature climate science to
push their point of view and personal interests. Climate science has not
reached a state of maturity or completion in which it can tell us anything
for sure; it does suggest but it does not tell for sure. Listening to the
climate scientists may lead us astray.

In any case Josh Horton is correct. Geoengineering as early as it is in
terms of proven capability does also strongly suggest solutions that can
protect us against increasing temperature; natural events surrounding
volcanic eruptions do prove the point. Ending CO2 emissions or capturing CO2
emissions does not guarantee that the climate temperature will not increase
in continuation of the past 10,000 years of climate history, during which
the temperature has been rising. History teaches it will continue to rise
even without a CO2 driver. Will the climate scientists deny this?


-----Original Message-----
From: climatein...@googlegroups.com
[mailto:climatein...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Josh Horton
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 5:44 PM
To: Climate Intervention

Josh Horton

--

Eugene I. Gordon

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Mar 16, 2011, 8:03:30 PM3/16/11
to ke...@ucalgary.ca, joshuah...@gmail.com, Climate Intervention

In my view this is not moderate. Climate science is indeed highly uncertain and the range of possibilities too large. Economists are not credible when they argue in the face of so much uncertainty. How can an input completely ignore the potential for geoengineering to find a viable solution.

John Gorman

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Mar 17, 2011, 4:41:42 AM3/17/11
to ke...@ucalgary.ca, geoengineering, Climate Intervention
I strongly disagree with both your points 1 and 2
 
1)At a peer reviewable level of certainty we may not be "headed towards disaster" but "the peer review system will tend to produce a best case scenario while public policy decisions of this magnitude should be made on a worst case scenario". (1). In a discussion after the UK parliament committee hearing that you were a witness at , the UK met office head said "but we don't know that those things will happen" to which I would reply " we don't know that they wont!" John Nissen may turn out to be worrying too much but he may not.
 
2)The suggestion that "--the cost to decarbonize the world economy amounts to a few percent GDP." comes from Lord Stern and the Copenhagen Secretariat. Surely discredited. I don't even agree with Chris Green that "-it would be prohibitively costly" I believe it is totally impossible in the time scale necessary. We only had one mature technology to turn to and that is getting less attractive by the hour.
 
Sorry, I don't believe in compromise. Lets get real.
 
john gorman 
 
(1) recent submission to UK parliament. attached -
Peer Review for Parliament pix deleted.rtf
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