Rhetoric Again - Cycles

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 06:39:GMT den 25. april 2012

Rhetoric Again - Cycles:

A few entries ago I wrote about the form of argument and the rhetoric used by those who advocate that the science of climate change is flawed in some fundamental and philosophical way (also here). In that piece I made reference to long-reaching metaphors and isolated facts that are used to create doubt about climate science. These metaphors and facts, for example that there was a lot of carbon dioxide when there were dinosaurs, create a stop or a pause in the conversation and pose as seeming contradictions and serve as distractions to make logically flawed points. For those who want to hone up on your arguments, I find the Marshall Institute’s Cocktail Party Guide to Global Warming some of the better coaching of anti-climate-science rhetoric.

I have been thinking about one of the common statements that is made, and that is the one about their being a lot of carbon dioxide when there were dinosaurs and, more generally, that there is a long record of cycles between times of high and low carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. This has been presented to me many times, and I often wonder, what exactly is the point that is being made?

At first, when I heard statements that there was very high carbon dioxide in the past, it seemed to be with the implication that this was one, a natural occurrence and two, a fact that was being hidden by climate scientists. True, it is a natural occurrence. Any comprehensive text book on climate change will discuss the past variations in carbon dioxide and that there have been times when carbon dioxide was much higher, and the Earth was much warmer. It is not hidden, rather it is used to inform our future.

Following from the introduction into the argument that the high values of carbon dioxide in the past were a natural occurrence, there seemed to be two points. First, was that very high values of carbon dioxide were possible in the absence of human-responsible emissions and second, that changes in carbon dioxide amounts were beyond our control and hence there was little sensibility in reducing our emissions. There is the further implication that since this is natural then it is OK.

Our real concern about climate change is that climate change impacts humans. If it were not for the impact on humans, climate change would be a curious problem of natural science. When there was a lot of carbon dioxide and dinosaurs, there were no humans. That does not mean that with high carbon dioxide that humans can’t survive and that dinosaurs will return. However, getting from the stable temperate climate in which our civilizations evolved to a climate where the temperatures are several degrees warmer will be a disruptive path. There will be less land as sea level rises, and since there is a huge concentration along the coasts of the world, there will be huge relocation of people, disruption to nations, and loss of infrastructure. There will be enormous changes in ecosystems and domestic plants and animals.

So yes, there are cycles and there has been a lot more carbon dioxide in the air, but that has been in the absence of billions of humans, our built environment, and our fragile balances of nations and economies. It is the disruption of the fragile balances of human enterprise where the risk lies – so how does the fact that carbon dioxide was high when there were dinosaurs bear on the current concerns about increasing carbon dioxide and global warming?

Carbon dioxide was high in the distant path – does this suggest that carbon dioxide amounts in the atmosphere are beyond our control? Why was carbon dioxide high? Is that simply an unknowable mystery?

The composition of our atmosphere is determined by many factors. In the long term, my geologist friends always remind me that the composition of the atmosphere is determined by geology and the cycling of gases between the atmosphere and ocean and the solid Earth. This long time frame, millions or billions of years, is not exactly relevant to our human experience. On a shorter amount of time, like the ice age cycles, or the large amounts of carbon dioxide when the dinosaurs were present, biological processes are important for determining the composition of the atmosphere. We have benefitted from many millions of years when carbon dioxide and oxygen existed in a balance that support plants and animals. Those cycles, those extended periods of high carbon dioxide, are characterized by changes in balance of plant and animal life. They are characterized by the ocean taking up and giving back large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through both chemical and biological processes.

So are we destined to simply be at the fate of these major shifts? Are these shifts beyond our control? Aren’t they natural?

Let’s get back to humans. There is little doubt that humans are the dominant life form on the planet today. We shape every ecosystem. We consume all forms of energy. Like the balances between plants and animals in the past we change the atmosphere and the ocean. Not only are we a dominant life form, we have this amazing ability to extract rocks and liquids and gas from the Earth and burn it. We have the ability to push around land, to make concrete, to remove mountains, and build islands. We are, therefore, not only biological, we are geological.

We are part of the cycle. We don’t simply exist at the mercy of the cycle.

So what is the point of a far reaching reference to the time of the dinosaurs and high amounts of carbon dioxide? Perhaps the point is to take us out of the equation, to absolve us of our responsibility to the planet, to allow us to do that which we want to do.

In the end this takes us to some very basic questions about humans and knowledge. I recently saw an idea attributed to Tim Flannery (also here), that humans are a species prone to destroying their future by destroying ecosystems. As I understand the argument, because of our intellect, we can continue to extract from the Earth resources beyond which a less creative species would be limited by brutal, natural barriers. We can rapidly cause extinctions. So far we can find and perhaps nurture new resources as we destroy the old.

We have this unique capacity of knowledge. We can place ourselves into our environment and see ourselves as shaping our environment, and have responsibility for maintaining our environment. We are not, entirely, at the fate of nature, or cycles, but we are part of nature, of cycles. And as such we might not be able to determine our future, but we are able to influence our future. We don’t have to be destined to destroy our future.

Scientifically, the statement of facts about cycles and high carbon dioxide millions of years ago has little bearing on whether or not we are burning fossil fuels, increasing carbon dioxide and warming the planet. Such presented facts are a diversionary part of a belief-based and politically based argument. Some advocates of the politically based arguments are trying to stop a societal response to carbon dioxide emissions. Other advocates are making a basic belief based argument that humans are somehow outside of biology and geology of the planet as a whole; that we are not just another age of some dominant life form. To me, what makes humans different is we have this ability to accumulate science-based knowledge, which is actionable, which imbues responsibility, which allows us to be different, and to sustain our future.


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420. ArborPics
17:03:GMT den 09. juli 2012
Quoting Birthmark:

If you're worried about one-world government, then you need to be worried about things like GATT, WTO, NAFTA, IMF, etc. One-world government will be comprised of bankers, not the UN.

Absolutely correct!! But the bankers already have the "public diaologue" neatly divided into (1) those who have the intellectual ability to understand the broader issues in light of what's best for mankind and (2) those wannabe intellectuals who imagine that promoting the agenda of their banker bosses is going to bring them respect and other rewards (like a job above that of burger-flipping). So we get constant lame debates w/o improving the quality of government one iota.

The election year "Rhetoric Cycle" has already begun, emails making inappropriate jokes about "the other guys" are already being circulated by these backyard geniuses and they're OFF to war in the name of their favorite ideology. It's like the Internet has been turned over to 8 year-old boys who just found out they've flunked third grade. Make bad jokes about the teachers!! (But never themselves.)

Anyone who scores less than 110 on a standard IQ test should be prohibited from voting. Anyone who sends out political trash emails should be automatically banned from voting. That's the only way we're going to save this country. Letting idiots and dupes vote (and run for office)- doesn't seem to be working out well.
Member Since: august 14, 2001 Posts: 12 Comments: 11
419. boburns
14:09:GMT den 20. mai 2012
Quoting Xandra:

Wow, 260 names. I am so impressed... NOT. If you compare it with the number of members of AAAS, it will be just 0.002%. Or with the number of members of AGU it will be just 0.004% LOL

Scientists? Most of them have no qualifications that fit them to write even an email on the subject climate change... Or maybe you can tell us what qualifications Roger W. Cohen has on the subject climate change??

Completely unnecessary spamming Dr Rood's blog with these names. You could have added a direct link instead. For example this Link

Hmm... Exxon Mobil Corporation... One Dollar In, Fifty-Nine Out!

Good catch. I checked myself. Very few climatologists in that mess of names. It's hard to believe how people could deny no human influence on climate when we've been returning CO2 to the environment using fossil fuels for a couple of hundred years now.

Casey would dance with a strawberry blonde
While the band played on.....
Member Since: september 27, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4
418. iceagecoming
20:31:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Sun may soon have four poles, say researchers
April 20, 2012

By SEIJI TANAKA/ Staff Writer

The sun may be entering a period of reduced activity that could result in lower temperatures on Earth, according to Japanese researchers.

Officials of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation said on April 19 that the activity of sunspots appeared to resemble a 70-year period in the 17th century in which London’s Thames froze over and cherry blossoms bloomed later than usual in Kyoto.

In that era, known as the Maunder Minimum, temperatures are estimated to have been about 2.5 degrees lower than in the second half of the 20th century.

The Japanese study found that the trend of current sunspot activity is similar to records from that period.

The researchers also found signs of unusual magnetic changes in the sun. Normally, the sun’s magnetic field flips about once every 11 years. In 2001, the sun’s magnetic north pole, which was in the northern hemisphere, flipped to the south.

While scientists had predicted that the next flip would begin from May 2013, the solar observation satellite Hinode found that the north pole of the sun had started flipping about a year earlier than expected. There was no noticeable change in the south pole.

If that trend continues, the north pole could complete its flip in May 2012 but create a four-pole magnetic structure in the sun, with two new poles created in the vicinity of the equator of our closest star.

Member Since: januar 27, 2009 Posts: 26 Comments: 1162
417. biff4ugo
20:28:GMT den 07. mai 2012
When sea level begins to stop and then reverse due to the sessation of thermal expansion, THEN I will believe you.
The majority of sea level rise is due to warming of the oceans.
Have you seen the gages start to fall?
If not, it is NOT getting colder.
Member Since: desember 28, 2006 Posts: 119 Comments: 1638
416. Neapolitan
18:15:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting Birthmark:

Magnets. How do they work, anyway?
...Thus asketh ICP.

Poking around over at WUWT, I found a link to yet another genius convinced that the ice age has already begun:

For those of you who think that earth is still warming: you are wrong. From a sample of 44 weather stations taken randomly from all over the world, I find that earth has started cooling down from about 1994.

Much profound science follows. Then this:

Like I asked myself, you are going to ask why no one but me has figured that global cooling has already started.


(Look for this guy to be a featured speaker at the upcoming Heartland Institute conference.)

Meanwhile, back in RealityLand, the "cooling" is obvious:

Member Since: november 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15213
415. Some1Has2BtheRookie
17:29:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting Birthmark:

Magnets. How do they work, anyway?

When you ingest magnets, does it cause you to become bipolar? ;-)

Added- No you, but in general. ... I thought that could use a little clarification.
Member Since: august 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5236
411. Some1Has2BtheRookie
16:06:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting PurpleDrank:
Wrong. Again.

Think magnets. You will find the answers there.

Opposites attract? ... Well, that would explain Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. ;-)
Member Since: august 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5236
410. PurpleDrank
15:52:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Wrong. Again.

Think magnets. You will find the answers there.
Member Since: august 17, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 730
409. Xandra
15:31:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting Neapolitan:

'Little Ice Age (Maunder-Dalton) circulation patterns are emerging and more rapid world cooling is taking over,' says astrophysicist Piers Corbyn.


LOL. More Corbyn:

"CO2 has never driven, does not drive and never will drive weather or Climate. Global warming is over and it never was anything to do with CO2. CO2 is still rising but the world is now cooling and will continue to do so."

- Piers Corbyn, 2008

The reality:

Member Since: november 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2047
408. greentortuloni
15:19:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting TemplesOfSyrinxC4:
Aldous Huxley's Final Revolution he talked about in his lecture at Berkeley where he admitted that Brave New World is really a work of non-fiction, a plan where man is made to enjoy his servitude is nigh upon us, the dropping acid comment was a joke - this ain't no hippy dippy Jim Morrisson lizard king the doors of perception type stuff- this is real, shun!

I thought taking acid gave you an excuse. I also took you seriously since you've mentioned it several times.

This latest post just paints a deeper picture of something wrong with you.
Member Since: juni 5, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1220
406. greentortuloni
15:00:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting TemplesOfSyrinxC4:

U.N. and the globalist institutions you listed are peas in the same corporatocracy pod, remember Ross Perot warning Al Gore on Larry King Live back in the day that NAFATA and GATT would lead to the "giant sucking sound" we now hear, and remember the Occidental oil heir to avowed communist Armand Hammer and professional huckster Al Gore thought NAFTA would be a great idea!

Now you're just making stuff up. "Professional huckster", seriously? Al Gore isn't a perfect human being but he isn't a huckster. And, he is head, sholders and torso above a person who just makes claims about conspiracies on an internet forum and then runs away without ever providing backup.

I've done my share of acid as well and from my point of view your enlightenment is incomplete. My guess is that you started with a huge emotional bias, ran into a mamoth epiphany and took the emotional profundity hit as reality. But most people who took probably a lot more than you from Kesey to Huxley to Hoffman to everyone else took the drug in order to open doors that once opened were best passed through again without drugs.

Re-living your epiphany is not a basis for solid opinion nor is it a way to go through life. Mostly, considering this forum, it isn't a basis for comments that are as false as the conspiracies that are imagined.

Member Since: juni 5, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1220
405. Neapolitan
14:53:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting NeapolitanFan:
CRU lost another FOIA request; this time regarding the Yamal tree-ring data. UEA had to turn over the data, which showed, unsurprisingly, that they were deceptive at best and, more likely, dishonest. Par for the course, I'd say, with these Climategate hucksters:

TRANSLATION: Denialists, more desperate than ever, continue their obsessive witch hunt. But faced with yet another agonizing defeat, they are now resorting to libelous ad hominems.

Watts has clearly had his own "jump the shark" moment here, just days after his beloved Heartland Institute badly misjudged with its now-infamous "all climate scientists are sociopathic mass murderers" billboard campaign. In his latest grade-school diatribe, Watts is in full spittle-flecked mode, likening paleoclimatologists to heroin addicts, and calling all scientists deceitful, manipulative liars.

What a sad little fellow he is. But his anger is certainly understandable if not forgivable; if I'd painstakingly built a career out of a house of cards that's been kicked to smithereens by scientific fact, I might too throw a tantrum now and then.

Anyway, stay classy, little Tony! The Great Global Ice Age of 2000 2002 2005 2007 2008 2010 2012 will surely start any day now, and you'll be forgiven for your years of missed forecasts!
Member Since: november 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15213
399. greentortuloni
12:21:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting TemplesOfSyrinxC4:
Nah, I'm good, I'm right at home here like the 3 little pigs said "this is just right!" I understand that you all just want this board to remain an echo chamber where any real debate is discouraged, as we've seen how knowledgable bloggers like Snowlover and Atmoaggie are treated here, it's a shame because when you have back and forth debate with them, people like myself that know next to nothing about AGW can really learn something. I know Snowlover said he was burnt out andof these days soon like my fellow social anxiety/ borderline Aspie on the spectrum that lacks basic social graces even more than I do RTSplayer just did, lol.

Posting conspiracy theories without any proof doesn't constitute debate. You've posted a lot of stuff that people have challenged you and and you just disapear. That isn't debate, it is just hit and run spam to satisfy your ego.

If your point about Buffet was that cronyism exists everywhere, fine. It's a bit obvious but ok, fine.

However you then go on to say that Keystone was not bad for teh environment becasue of cronyism existed in its rejection? Seriously, go learn how to think.
Member Since: juni 5, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1220
396. Neapolitan
02:50:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting Patrap:
..da globals cooling's should begin any week now.

Yep. Apparently the Ice Age has already begun; we just can't tell yet because it's just hidden by all that pesky, you know, warming:

Now heading into a Little Ice Age, says astrophysicist

'Little Ice Age (Maunder-Dalton) circulation patterns are emerging and more rapid world cooling is taking over,' says astrophysicist Piers Corbyn.

Member Since: november 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15213
395. Neapolitan
02:46:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Quoting JupiterKen:

It's really good of you to stick to the facts and not resort to ad hom's...oh, wait.
You still don't get it, do you? See, it's not an ad hominem to point out an actual flaw. For instance, it's not an ad hominem to say that Ted Bundy was a serial killer; it's a statement of proven fact. And by the same token, it's not an ad hominem to point out that Luntz is both a propagandist (his term, by the way) and a liar.
Member Since: november 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15213
393. Patrap
01:40:GMT den 07. mai 2012
..da globals cooling's should begin any week now.

Member Since: juli 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144117
389. Patrap
00:19:GMT den 07. mai 2012
Thanx for the memories "Goober", and for pumping the Hi-test and wiping the windshield.

Fair winds.

George Lindsey Dead: 'Andy Griffith Show' Actor Known As Goober Pyle Dies At 83
Member Since: juli 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144117
380. JupiterKen
15:33:GMT den 06. mai 2012
Quoting Neapolitan:
You are correct. Gallup is merely right-leaning, but the polling organization does try to get things right. Luntz, on the other hand, is a serial liar and propagandist who has left a long, thick snail-like trail of slime behind him. The term "worm" is far too nice for him...

It's really good of you to stick to the facts and not resort to ad hom's...oh, wait.
Member Since: mai 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 306
379. Neapolitan
14:41:GMT den 06. mai 2012
Quoting JupiterKen:

Luntz and Gallup are two different entities. Try harder...
You are correct. Gallup is merely right-leaning, but the polling organization does try to get things right. Luntz, on the other hand, is a serial liar and propagandist who has left a long, thick snail-like trail of slime behind him. The term "worm" is far too nice for him...
Member Since: november 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15213
377. JupiterKen
11:34:GMT den 06. mai 2012
Quoting Birthmark:

Well, we can't all use your method. I notice that you use that method for posting, too.

You might want to look a little more closely at those polls rather than relying on the spin put on them.

The numbers tell a somewhat different tale than the sound-bite analysis that you seem to prefer.

Oh, and if you think Luntz' Gallup organization is left-leaning, then you are so far removed from reality that this post is probably red-shifted. (Luntz told the Republicans to call AGW "climate change".) He is very much a Republican pollster.

Luntz and Gallup are two different entities. Try harder...
Member Since: mai 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 306
375. Daisyworld
02:41:GMT den 06. mai 2012
Quoting Birthmark:

... It's largely the fault of the media who provide false equivalency to nutjobs, cranks, and outright liars.
That's because they're trying to be "fair and balanced".
Member Since: januar 11, 2012 Posts: 6 Comments: 968
373. LowerCal
00:36:GMT den 06. mai 2012
Quoting NeapolitanFan:
Gallup is historically notorious for left-leaning polls. ....

The death of facts in an age of 'truthiness' | 89.3 KPCC
"[Facts are] survived by rumor and innuendo, two brothers, and then a sister, emphatic assertion," ....
Member Since: juli 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 10335

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