"I was defeated by facts" How a sceptic changed his mind about climate change

I seem to like events where people of a mindset learn the error of their ways.

"I was defeated by facts," writes the Republican Massachusetts based blogger D. R. Tucker at the FrumForum website. The freelance writer and radio host has explained why, as a member of the "urban right", he has changed his mind about climate change.

"It wasn't all that long ago when I joined others on the right in dismissing concerns about climate change. It was my firm belief that the science was unsettled, that any movement associated with Al Gore and Van Jones couldn't possibly be trusted, that environmentalists were simply left-wing, anti-capitalist kooks."

This response to the public debate on climate change will be familiar to right wing Conservatives and libertarians in the UK, who have seen environmental groups call for state intervention and higher taxation in some areas to deal with global warming.

Tucker writes that he began to question his instinctive rejection of the science of climate change after reading Professor Morris Fiorina's book Disconnect (2009).

"Fiorina noted that while environmentalism is now considered the domain of the Democratic Party, for many years it was the GOP [Republican Party] that was identified with conservationist concerns. I was curious as to how the political climate shifted with regard to environmentalism - and whether there was something to all this talk about climate change."

......

To conclude he presents an interesting warning. Those who ideologically and emotionally support Republicans will find it increasingly difficult to defend a party that appears anti-science and pro-pollution.

"In the months following my acceptance of the conclusions in the IPCC report, I've had a change in my emotional climate. I go back and forth between disappointment and hope-sadness over seeing Republicans who once believed in the threat of climate change (such as Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty) suddenly turn into skeptics; optimism about efforts by such groups as Republicans for Environmental Protection and Citizens Climate Lobby to sound the alarm about the need to combat climate pollution.

"I struggle with the urge to give in to cynicism and bitterness, to write off the American right for its refusal to recognize scientific facts. Thankfully, there's a stronger urge - an urge to keep working until the American right recognizes that a healthy planet is required to have the life and liberty that allows us to pursue happiness."

Yeah, that's one thing that really gets me. I was thinking about this a couple weeks ago, in fact.

Hunters and outdoorspeople in general tend to be both very conservative and arch-conservationists. I don't know how the hell they let themselves get sold up the river like that by their party, but they really need to wake up and check the weather.

Wait... so the simple solution to possibly turning people around in their ideology is by telling them that they used to believe the opposite to what they do? I wonder if this has further ramifications for other arguments?

I've only read what is above but from that snippet, it doesn't sound like he was convinced by the facts... instead it sounds like he thought "this is what we used to stand for and now we don't... but i can go back to that because we were the original standers for those things!".

Well, the snip cut out what Tucker learned reading Disconnect by Morris Fiorina and the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which led to his rethinking his position.

It seemed a little redundant for inclusion in the quote.

Entire polar ecosystems are going down on record as going extinct in areas where they're supposed to be dominant. That seems to be a pretty indisputable fact of climate change on a global scale.

What isn't clear is how this will change the climate globally and whether humans will still be the dominant species in the new environment. I'm fairly sure life on the whole will be largely unchanged. Life will go on, the planet is in no immediate danger. Humans though? That's a little more iffy.

LarryC wrote:
Entire polar ecosystems are going down on record as going extinct in areas where they're supposed to be dominant. That seems to be a pretty indisputable fact of climate change on a global scale.

What isn't clear is how this will change the climate globally and whether humans will still be the dominant species in the new environment. I'm fairly sure life on the whole will be largely unchanged. Life will go on, the planet is in no immediate danger. Humans though? That's a little more iffy.

Yeah.

I find it best to not argue with those that take the position that climate change isn't happening. It's akin to an Old World battle over whether or not the world is round...or that we're not at the center of the solar system. However, to claim that we as humans are solely responsible or that change on our part would be preventative or reverse the process is equally as narcissistic.

Republican Massachusetts based blogger

C'mon. We all know he can't be a REAL Republican coming from there.

BishopRS wrote:
LarryC wrote:
Entire polar ecosystems are going down on record as going extinct in areas where they're supposed to be dominant. That seems to be a pretty indisputable fact of climate change on a global scale.

What isn't clear is how this will change the climate globally and whether humans will still be the dominant species in the new environment. I'm fairly sure life on the whole will be largely unchanged. Life will go on, the planet is in no immediate danger. Humans though? That's a little more iffy.

Yeah.

I find it best to not argue with those that take the position that climate change isn't happening. It's akin to an Old World battle over whether or not the world is round...or that we're not at the center of the solar system. However, to claim that we as humans are solely responsible or that change on our part would be preventative or reverse the process is equally as narcissistic.


I may be reading you wrong, if so, disregard this.

How so? It's indisputable that humans are the major cause of climate change. How would us altering our behavior have no effect? We can't undo all of the damage we've already caused, but we can take measures to lessen the overall impact we have. You seem to be saying that we shouldn't even try because we can't fix it 100%?

Stengah wrote:
BishopRS wrote:
LarryC wrote:
Entire polar ecosystems are going down on record as going extinct in areas where they're supposed to be dominant. That seems to be a pretty indisputable fact of climate change on a global scale.

What isn't clear is how this will change the climate globally and whether humans will still be the dominant species in the new environment. I'm fairly sure life on the whole will be largely unchanged. Life will go on, the planet is in no immediate danger. Humans though? That's a little more iffy.

Yeah.

I find it best to not argue with those that take the position that climate change isn't happening. It's akin to an Old World battle over whether or not the world is round...or that we're not at the center of the solar system. However, to claim that we as humans are solely responsible or that change on our part would be preventative or reverse the process is equally as narcissistic.

I may be reading you wrong, if so, disregard this.

How so? It's indisputable that humans are the major cause of climate change.

That is very disputable. Neither of us can prove it either way, though. I ask in jest, did cavemen cause the Ice Age?

How would us altering our behavior have no effect? We can't undo all of the damage we've already caused, but we can take measures to lessen the overall impact we have. Are you saying that we shouldn't even try because we can't fix it 100%?

I'm saying that what is occurring is part natural change and part human interference. We don't know the magical god-equation that objectively determines which holds more weight.

BishopRS wrote:
I'm saying that what is occurring is part natural change and part human interference. We don't know the magical god-equation that objectively determines which holds more weight.

Decades of climate science research and hundreds of experiments that say the earth most definitely warming and humans are responsible for it holds more weight.

BishopRS wrote:
Stengah wrote:
I may be reading you wrong, if so, disregard this.

How so? It's indisputable that humans are the major cause of climate change.

That is very disputable. Neither of us can prove it either way, though. I ask in jest, did cavemen cause the Ice Age?

Stengah wrote:
How would us altering our behavior have no effect? We can't undo all of the damage we've already caused, but we can take measures to lessen the overall impact we have. Are you saying that we shouldn't even try because we can't fix it 100%?

I'm saying that what is occurring is part natural change and part human interference. We don't know the magical god-equation that objectively determines which holds more weight.

It's pretty clear that humans are responsible for at least some of the changes, though. We've increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to our industrialization, and at the same time reduced one of the Earth's primary methods for getting rid of them through our deforestation.

Even if we're only responsible for 10% of the current climate change, shouldn't we at least make an attempt to reduce the damage we're doing ourselves, so that the natural change can occur on its own timetable? Every boat will eventually sink, but if you put a hole in it yourself, it's going to sink faster, and it's a nice gesture to at least try to patch the hole.

BishopRS wrote:

That is very disputable. Neither of us can prove it either way, though. I ask in jest, did cavemen cause the Ice Age?

I don't know... it depends on whether you believe that burning billions of tonnes of fossil fuels over the last century or so that would not have naturally been burnt or used is a natural cause and would naturally affect the ecosystem in both pollution and cycles.... Oh, and we'll not mention the whole CFC/ozone layer thing because that's no longer au fait.

BishopRS wrote:
Stengah wrote:
BishopRS wrote:
LarryC wrote:
Entire polar ecosystems are going down on record as going extinct in areas where they're supposed to be dominant. That seems to be a pretty indisputable fact of climate change on a global scale.

What isn't clear is how this will change the climate globally and whether humans will still be the dominant species in the new environment. I'm fairly sure life on the whole will be largely unchanged. Life will go on, the planet is in no immediate danger. Humans though? That's a little more iffy.

Yeah.

I find it best to not argue with those that take the position that climate change isn't happening. It's akin to an Old World battle over whether or not the world is round...or that we're not at the center of the solar system. However, to claim that we as humans are solely responsible or that change on our part would be preventative or reverse the process is equally as narcissistic.

I may be reading you wrong, if so, disregard this.

How so? It's indisputable that humans are the major cause of climate change.

That is very disputable. Neither of us can prove it either way, though. I ask in jest, did cavemen cause the Ice Age?

How would us altering our behavior have no effect? We can't undo all of the damage we've already caused, but we can take measures to lessen the overall impact we have. Are you saying that we shouldn't even try because we can't fix it 100%?

I'm saying that what is occurring is part natural change and part human interference. We don't know the magical god-equation that objectively determines which holds more weight.


We actually do know that the natural part cannot explain the past 50 years of climate change. There is overwhelming evidence that the last 50 years of climate change has been primarily caused by humans.
Here's a link to the summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report on climate change. Here's the EPA's FAQ (PDF warning) for climate change. Here's the Climate Literacy Booklet (another PDF) put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
If you still think that the humans aren't the major contributor to climate change after reading those, there's not much left to say.

Stengah wrote:
If you still think that the humans aren't the major contributor to climate change after reading those, there's not much left to say.

Except to say that one of the fundamental principles of science and pretty much everything else as well, is that when you introduce and element into a system, the system changes. Climate Change Denial isn't just a denial of science, it's a denial of the basics of reality.

LarryC wrote:
Entire polar ecosystems are going down on record as going extinct in areas where they're supposed to be dominant. That seems to be a pretty indisputable fact of climate change on a global scale.

What isn't clear is how this will change the climate globally and whether humans will still be the dominant species in the new environment. I'm fairly sure life on the whole will be largely unchanged. Life will go on, the planet is in no immediate danger. Humans though? That's a little more iffy.


I do not think that we have crossed the Rubicon just yet on this though. London, Chicago, Detroit, New York seemed to have rebounded very well from the naked coal burning at the turn of the last century.

The real problem and the real issue is standing in the way of implementing those technologies and solutions on a large enough scale to step back. Sadly, Carter was the last president to really propose things like standardizing solar cells on new constructions. My area is testing all sorts of new wind turbines and solar arrays. I can recall that 20 years ago electric cars were still just pet projects. And when you go to auto shows currently, we do not seem to have moved much past that.

It comes down to putting our money on the infastructure to get Mag rail, recharging stations, and our power grid upgraded. The sad truth is so much of our country is running on 150-200 year old infrastructure.

Also, I really hate the "part of this is natural" argument. We work our asses off to make nature work for us. Rivers are dammed, roads carved from mountainsides, we change the tides to prevent erosion, flood plains, we domesticated plants and animals. Future generations may have to contend with a climate changed by a tidally locked moon. Sometimes Nature is a douche. Only in this instance we have subjugated nature to global detriment. I see very little difference in climate change and creating dust bowl conditions by farming.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
Stengah wrote:
If you still think that the humans aren't the major contributor to climate change after reading those, there's not much left to say.

Except to say that one of the fundamental principles of science and pretty much everything else as well, is that when you introduce and element into a system, the system changes. Climate Change Denial isn't just a denial of science, it's a denial of the basics of reality.

Ouch. I wasn't denying climate change; I stated how silly that was in my first post. I've seen some more convincing literature now and am more informed on our part of the reason.

[quote=BishopRS]

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
Ouch. I wasn't denying climate change; I stated how silly that was in my first post. I've seen some more convincing literature now and am more informed on our part of the reason.

It's a little harsh, but your stance is still one that deniers like to hide behind whenever people want to do something about climate change. (not saying that's what you're doing, it's just that it's commonly used by people who don't want to believe that it concerns them).
There was a better flowchart posted in another thread, but this one is pretty good too.
IMAGE(http://mothincarnate.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/grfpc.png)

KingGorilla wrote:
Future generations may have to contend with a climate changed by a tidally locked moon.
Huh? I thought the moon was already tidally locked.

Even some skeptics believe that global warming is caused by humans. They just believe it is God's punishment for teh gay marriage.

Homosexualgenic climate change?

Grumpicus wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:
Future generations may have to contend with a climate changed by a tidally locked moon.
Huh? I thought the moon was already tidally locked.

It is. And nothing about Global Warming is going to affect the moon, and since nothing about the moon has changed in awhile it's not going to be affecting global warming. He may be referring to some sort of meme, since tying the moon and global warming seems to ring a bell.

I got that backwards. I meant when the earth and moon are tidally locked to each other. IE the moon essentially "stays in one place."

Ah ok. And yeah, that's supposed to happen a few billion years from now. The moon is constantly sapping tiny portions of the Earth's angular velocity. The same thing already happened to the moon, it just didn't take nearly as long because the Earth wears the pants in that relationship.

Hey, I am optimistic that some genetic child of ours will still be around then.

That would require some pretty massive upheaval of the earth-moon system.

The radius of a geostationary orbit is 42,164 km.
The period of a geostationary orbit is ~23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.091 seconds.
The radius of the moon is 1,737.4 km.
The radius of the Earth is 6,378.1 km.

The radius of the moon's actual orbit is 385,000 km.
The period of the moon's actual orbit is ~27 days, 13 hours, 18 minutes, 33.2 seconds.

In order for the Earth to rotate in such a way that the moon is always above the point on Earth, it would have to rotate only once every 27.6 days. In such a scenario, it is correct to assume that the entire ecosphere would be f*cked, as the area under the equator was ferociously baked by a month at a time under the sun, then blasted with wind rushing from the hot side of the planet to the cold side, then frozen by a month at a time out of sight of the sun.

In order for the moon to orbit in such a way that the moon is always above the same point on Earth, it would have to revolve once every 23.93 hours. It would have to orbit at a distance that is 1/10th its current distance from the Earth. It is reasonable to assume that this would increase the deformation of the oceans due to tidal forces, as well as increase tidal stresses on the Earth's crust. On the other hand, since the moon and the Earth would no longer be moving relative to each other, the tidal forces would be relatively static—the oceans wouldn't go in and out during the day, and the deformation wouldn't be changing the shape of the Earth all the time, it would simply be there.

---

Of course, all of this leaves aside the question of "Exactly how the f*ck would that happen, then? And if it did happen, how the f*ck exactly do you imagine we'd survive the changes to be around to notice?"

---

Edit: Oh, I see you're talking long term. If so, this article might be interesting. Also on that page: "About 2.1 billion years from now, the continual increase of the Sun's radiation will cause the Earth's oceans to vaporize, removing the bulk of the tidal friction and acceleration. Even without this, the slowdown to a month-long day would still not have been completed by 4.5 billion years from now when the Sun will evolve into a red giant and possibly destroy both the Earth and Moon."

I think it is safe to say that we will never, ever have to worry about the effects of Earth being tidally locked to the moon on the Earth's climate. Ever.

Or, our rotation would slow. And it is slowing down. Like Yonder said, that day is very far off. I will not pretend to conjecture what would be the inevitable result. There is a good chance neither will be present as the sun may very well blow up into a red giant by then.

Why is it whenever I try to come up with "natural" environmental hazards, I mess it up or end up explaining it? My overall point, regardless of timeline, is that there are some natural activities that could really mess us up. The flow of the tides are very important to life on earth as far as weather, jet streams, etc.

Screw it. It is like this, there are natural weak spots in the Ozone layer over the poles. Chances are good we would never have discovered them if we had not discovered the hole in it thanks to CFCs poking holes. We then observed the hole grow and shrink with the arctic seasons. Through that weak spot we get the solar radiation seeping to create the northern lights.
Those natural weak spots also posed an interesting problem, and many what if's. The poles have always been our "weak flank" when it comes to particles, radiation, possibly biological, contamination from space.

Erm. The ozone layer is below the ionosphere, where the auroras occur. The only reference I've found so far says "Results indicate a delayed positive correlation between enhanced auroral activity and total ozone depletion over Antarctica." That is: Shortly after there's a spectacular aurora (big solar flares cause spectacular aurorae), ozone is more depleted. (i.e. it is less likely that ozone depletion causes big auroras than that big auroras cause ozone depletion--but all they're claiming is that it's correlated.)

But that aside: I'm not sure what this all has to do with anything? *reading back* Oh, I guess the point is this: It doesn't matter whether climate changes are man-made or not. We have to deal with them. If there's an upcoming threat to our survival due to global warming, who cares if it's anthropogenic or not? It's still a problem. Is that what you were saying?

Anyway: The reason we *do* care is more that because we can see just how large an impact man has had on creating the problem, it is *clear* that man can also have an impact when trying to solve the problem. Hence: The anthropogenic nature of the warming as a part of the argument that is most effective against people who think "it's not like we can do anything to fix it anyway" or who make the claim that "we shouldn't interfere with nature taking its course."

Easy for the "opposition" to side-track people onto that side of the question, though, when the real question should simply be "how do we keep things from getting super bad, no matter where the problem is coming from?"

More disturbing are the people who claim "it's not happening at all, the scientists are lying to us!" (The worst offender in this category I've personally experienced is a co-worker who is convinced that the vast majority of scientists who study the climate are misleading us *because they are employed by the government and the government is paying them to lie to us*, and that the tiny minority of scientists working for big oil companies, for example, are more trustworthy because they're... er... employed by companies that have no reason to lie to us about the effect of burning fossil fuels on the environment. Because it's easier to establish a giant conspiracy among all scientists that ever receive any money from the government. Yeah. I don't get it.)

KG, the ozone hole is a result of atmospheric physics and chemistry. The influx of particles and auroras are controlled by a very different phenomenon, related to the magnetic fields around the earth. The two are not directly related. The ozone holes do not weaken the magnetic field, and the chemical reactions which cause them are not affected by changes in the magnetic field.

I hate you all. Pick on the poor legal scholar. Quick, someone misinterpret the constitution so I can lash back.

It's freedom of religion. Not freedom from religion.

KingGorilla wrote:
I hate you all. Pick on the poor legal scholar. Quick, someone misinterpret the constitution so I can lash back.

The first amendment means I don't have to hear anything that offends me, and offensive things should be banned!