Top Ten Questions about Climate Change on the Eve of Copenhagen

Is the earth’s climate warming? Indisputably.

Has the pumping of vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by human beings since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution contributed to global climate change? Also, indisputably.

Would extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause warming? In the absence of some sort of offset, yes. In fact, this effect can be demonstrated in a bottle.

Who funds “science” questioning carbon-dioxide-driven climate change? Exxon-Mobil, among others.

Why don’t most American senators and congressmen have the gumption of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who called climate change deniers “flat-earthers”, and “anti-science”?

Would global warming just mean it is hotter? No. If mountain ice and glaciers melt, the people who depend on seasonal melting of such highland ice will be left without a water source and thrown into drought. Over a billion people in the Indian subcontinent are at risk. And, 60% of Bangladesh is at risk from rising sea levels.

Has global warming been flat since 1998? No, this assertion depends on a stupid little trick. 1998 was unusually warm because of an El Nino, so if you take it as the baseline, you get a false picture. Take 1997 or 1999 as your starting point (normal years), and then you see the clear continuing warming trend. It would be like starting with the 2005 tsunami and saying the ocean levels have fallen mysteriously and dramatically since then in Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Are the measures proposed at Copenhagen a good first step? Not even remotely. (See also Bill McKibben at

Would actually proving that some climate scientists have engaged in partisan activity change the above facts? No. Was that proved by the hacked emails? No.

Is is just an accident that the countries who are the biggest polluters have publics who are most skeptical of human-made climate change?

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11 Responses

  1. It was recently reported that Al Gore will become a billionaire, yes billioiaire, based on global warming. He has invested heavily in technologies that are involved in the global warming pheneomenon.

  2. "Has the pumping of vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by human beings since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution contributed to global climate change? Also, indisputably."

    Well, that fact is actually not indisputable, since there are people disputing it. That their disputations are invalid, ridiculous and stupid does not mean that they are not disputing it and the fact is, therefore, disputable.

    Now, if you mean by "indisputable" something like, "unable to be countered by any valid dispute" then…

  3. The issues are the direct costs of energy production and the social costs of effluent by-products. There is tremendous potential for companies and countries alike to increase their marginal profitability and well-being by reducing these costs, without regard to the phenomena of climate change. imho It is unfortunate that this rhetorical frame box that we find ourselves in forces us to prove or disprove the existence of climate change phenomena a priori increasing the profitability of our private and public enterprise. In that regard I find the prerequisite "climate change = TRUE .OR. FALSE?" issue, and international conferences (such as Copenhagen) focused on the a priori proposition, "IF climate change = TRUE, THEN invest and innovate in energy production and effluent reduction" to be an un-necessary and unwelcome distraction to our clear and present opportunity to "invest and innovate" — for all of us to become wealthier and live healthier, whatever the weather.

  4. It's very important to be aware that global warming doesn't mean it generally feels hotter. It means primarily that there are more weather extremes. It means big fluctuations in daily temperature rnages, abnormal snowfalls, drought and flood and heavy winds…as well as heatwaves, melting glaciers and lessened snowpacks overall.

  5. The contrarians (a polite name for the intellectual dishonesty of deniers) are blowing a lot of smoke about "water", that it has been left out, is most important, and is not a man-made problem.

    Water vapor is not to my knowledge a strong greenhouse heat trapping gas, a question easily settled by the relative strengths of infrared aborption bands and radiation transfer theory. You're trying to tell me James Hansen didn't do this calculation?

    Changes in water vapor content due to temperature rise from true greenhouse gases do affect cloud formation and thus affect the amount of solar radiation hitting the earth. This affects the magnitude of the rise, and is a complicated higher order effect.

    The attempt to corrupt the warming argument is on a par with the Catholic Church shutting Galileo down.

  6. Thank you for publicizing these basic facts that everyone needs to know. But please do not reference Bill McKibben. He is an anti-science christianist who is piggybacking on this issue. James Hanson would be a better reference.

  7. Al Gore has invested heavily in renewables, and stands to become a billionaire… this is important for what reason exactly?
    Men with his status and connections get stupidly rich in many different ways. Would you find him more respectable if he invested in Chevron? Or would you find it more respectable if he invested in nothing at all, and let others cough up the investment capital to green the economy? I'd consider him a hypocrite if he did not make those investments.

  8. Bob Hall: Scientific American has seven helpful answers to the denialists. Water is discussed on the first page (yes, it's a greenhouse gas, and yes, it's included in the models).

  9. @Jayhawk:

    It's unfortunate for you, that in attempting to be a pedant over language you've made a fool of yourself, and there's an even bigger pedant in place to put you right.

    Calling something indisputable does not mean that it is impossible to even attempt to dispute it. It does in fact mean that it is impossible to dispute it in a valid way. Any dictionary will tell you this, and that is indisputable. For instance:

    link to|en&hl=en&q=indisputable

    "If you say that something is indisputable, you are emphasizing that it is true and cannot be shown to be untrue."

    In fact, if you think about it, your definition of indisputable would make the word redundant. Why would it be impossible to even attempt to dispute something?

  10. Can I use this information on the project that I’m wokring? It’s about sustainably managing environment. I will properly cite you.

    • It is a public blog, so can be cited like any other publication, and it is, all the time.

      cheers Juan

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