Cartoon: Global Warming Can’t Be Real

global-warming-planet-590

TRANSCRIPT
Panel 1
The image shows a businessman wearing a jacket and tie and standing on a tiny planet Earth. He is angrily lecturing. In the background we see outer space.
MAN: Global warming can’t be real. Because if it IS real, then profit isn’t always right.

Panel 2
The planet is melting away under him, and he looks nervous.
MAN: Plus, after so many years of calling it a hoax, it would be humiliating to admit global warming is real. WE CAN’T LET AL GORE WIN!

Panel 3
The Earth continues melting away. Only a thin sliver of the planet is left, and the man clings to it desperately.
MAN: East coast elites made up global warming because they hate the American way of life! The only “crisis” is the government trying to take control!

Panel 4
The Earth is gone. The man is gone. We are looking at empty space.

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Environmental issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

40 Responses to Cartoon: Global Warming Can’t Be Real

  1. 1
    JutGory says:

    Amp, whether you realize it or not, you have highlighted one of the criticisms that people have about global-warming/climate change.

    Even assuming global warming is true, the earth is not going to go away. People are not going to go extinct. The earth will survive this. People will survive.

    But, global warming proponents start to look like modern-day Chicken Littles with the sort of doomsday predictions they have.

    And, this cartoon perfectly exemplifies that criticism (not quite on the level of Poe’s Law, but you’re getting close).

    -Jut

  2. 2
    Brian says:

    JG, when you say

    Even assuming global warming is true, the earth is not going to go away. People are not going to go extinct. The earth will survive this. People will survive.

    You remind me of George Carlin explaining that “The planet is fine… THE PEOPLE are fucked.” He was being satirical, while you seem to mean it, sadly.

    I won’t debate science, that’s like debating if owls exist and are there hats. I will suggest you read a book.

  3. 3
    JutGory says:

    Brian,

    That’s fine if you don’t want to debate science. That’s not what I was doing. I was critiquing a cartoon.

    But, you do realize that scientists debate science all the time, right? Bohr and Einstein actually disagreed about, you know, sciencey stuff. One might even go so far as to say they “debated” about that sciencey stuff.

    I think I read about it in a book.

    -Jut

  4. 4
    Ben Lehman says:

    Neither Bohr nor Einstein was a denialist.

    Einstein was uncomfortable with the spooky aspects of QM, yes. But he didn’t deny that QM existed. He didn’t deny the results of blackbody radiation experiments because he was personally uncomfortable with the results.

    Climate change denialists ain’t no Einsteins.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  5. 5
    Lee1 says:

    Even assuming global warming is true, the earth is not going to go away. People are not going to go extinct. The earth will survive this. People will survive.

    Do you really know a significant number of serious* people who claim that the earth is going to go away (in an actual physical sense, as opposed to a cartoon imagery sense – presumably Amp isn’t arguing that our planet will literally cease to exist) or that humans will go extinct? I’m sure the latter group is somewhat larger than the former, but in my experience they’re both extremely small (vanishingly small in the former case). That seems like a strawman argument to me.

    The case for trying to reverse or mitigate climate change is not that humans will go extinct, but that a lot of humans will either die or have their quality of life significantly reduced, and that the environmental, economic, etc. costs will be enormous and almost certainly greatly outweigh any potential benefits (and those costs will be unevenly and unfairly distributed around the world).

    *I realize that’s a pretty vague term, but the world is a big place and at any given time just about every dipshit idea possible is being espoused by someone, somewhere. I’m talking about people who are at least moderately rational and well-informed as a general rule.

  6. 6
    JutGory says:

    Ben,
    Nothing you said is relevant to what I said, just as nothing Brian said was really relevant to my point, either.
    -Jut

  7. 7
    Ben Lehman says:

    Sounds like you’re having a hard time expressing yourself. Clear communication is difficult: I sympathize. Maybe try expressing yourself again, more precisely?

    Because it sure looks to me like you’re equating the Einstein / Bohr disputes over the spooky aspects of quantum mechanics with global warming denialism.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  8. 8
    Copyleft says:

    I see JG’s point, I think. Perhaps it would’ve been more accurate to show humanity doing the melting, while the Earth continues on without us. Still room for confusion, though.

  9. 9
    Mokele says:

    Jut,

    First, the problem is that cartoons use hyperbole for effect, yet you’re taking it as accurate rather than artistic. You might as well argue that Garfield promotes pet obesity.

    Second, your use of “debating science” conflates dispute over details or experimental data interpretation with disputes over major and well-established facts or theories. Claiming that scientists “debate global warming” is like saying that because evolutionary biologists are figuring out the role of epigenetics, there’s a scientific debate about evolution as a whole.

  10. 10
    JutGory says:

    Ben:

    Sounds like you’re having a hard time expressing yourself. Clear communication is difficult: I sympathize.

    I was going to say something similar about reading comprehension.

    Let me break it down for you:

    Jut: “assuming global warming is true” (That means my comment is not getting into a debate about the merits of the science.)

    Brain: “I won’t debate science.” (Completely irrelevant. I was not debating it either, so I don’t get what his point was.)

    And, frankly, it is a stupid point. It sounds smart, but it was not limited to climate change. It was a simple statement that Brian won’t debate science.

    So, I bring up Einstein and Bohr to illustrate to Brian that, while he won’t debate science, scientists do.

    Jut”But, you do realize that scientists debate science all the time, right? Bohr and Einstein actually disagreed about, you know, sciencey stuff. One might even go so far as to say they “debated” about that sciencey stuff.” Not one mention of climate change.

    Ben: “Neither Bohr nor Einstein was a denialist.”

    Good for them. No one has suggested they were. I certainly did not; in fact, both of them were probably dead before this issue had come up. I merely pointed out that they were scienticts who debated science.

    So, no, I was not equating Einstein and Bohr with the global warming. That was your inference. They came up because Brian threw out his “I won’t debate science”: a) when no one had been debating it; and b) when such a broad and unqualified statement would not be made by any scientist of any repute.

    And, Lee1, thank you for actually addressing my point. But for this side-track, I do intend to respond. I just can’t do it right now.

    -Jut

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    Amp, whether you realize it or not, you have highlighted one of the criticisms that people have about global-warming/climate change.

    Of course I realized that some right-wing denialist would have exactly your reaction – even though it’s VERY obvious that what’s going on in this cartoon is humorous hyperbole, rather than an argument that the Earth is literally going to melt away in the course of four sentences.

    (Also, did you know that humans aren’t literally so huge that they stand on the Earth like a child standing on a sandbag? And that if there WERE a human that large, no clothing manufacturer would be able to make clothing in his size? And what is he breathing with his head that high?)

  12. 12
    Hugh says:

    It may be obvious hyperbole, but I don’t really think we need hyperbole in policy debate, humorous or otherwise.

    I wonder, Amp, if you would be equally comfortable with “humorous hyperbole” coming from a conservative cartoon about, say, immigration or welfare.

  13. 13
    Myca says:

    Amp, whether you realize it or not, you have highlighted one of the criticisms that people have about global-warming/climate change.

    It’s not a legitimate criticism, and I think it’s a waste of time trying to tiptoe around the irrational objections of ignorant people.

    This is like saying that Maus plays into the hands of Holocaust deniers because, “Even assuming the Holocaust was real, we all know the concentration camps weren’t guarded by cats, and to include such an obviously fantastic element plays into the hands of those who believe that the Holocaust was entirely fantasy, etc, etc, etc.”

    People who don’t want to believe obviously true things will find any excuse to do so. And yes, they’ll use weasel phrases like “even assuming x is true” that implies that there’s some sort of legitimate debate on the matter when there’s not.

    If the overwhelming scientific consensus and evidence has failed to convince them … if fucking physics has failed to convince them … then I doubt Ampersand’s cartoon is going to affect their poor little denialist minds much one way or the other.

    —Myca

  14. 14
    Brian says:

    Amp, I just realized. Your cartoons are the fastest most reliable test for Asperger’s EVER. I need to go back through the archives looking for every cartoon that had a large number of “BUT REALITY DOESN’T LOOK LIKE THAT SO IM GONNA USE LOTSA WORDS UNTIL I FEEL BETTER” reaction. I’ll pay for the licensing fees and package it to schools to test kids.

    Who knew back in the day you’d invent the next Rorschach blots?

  15. 15
    Ben Lehman says:

    Brian: If you could knock it off with the ableism, I would really appreciate that. It makes me extremely uncomfortable.

    Jut: “I don’t want to debate the science” means very different things in different contexts. Here it means “I don’t want to debate things on which there is vast scientific consensus and a huge amount of reliable data,” as opposed to the Einstein/Bohr arguments which were both by informed experts (rather than random yahoos) and also about how to interpret (or fail to interpret) startling new results on which there was no consensus. Indeed, when you shift context wildly, the meaning of things does change.

    To address your original point: I find it strange that you are perfectly willing to assert that “humanity will not go extinct” as a reason to ignore what will likely be the single largest temperature change in the history of the human species, which will eventually render large chunks of the Earth’s surface uninhabitable by humans. Yes, humans will (probably) not go extinct from global warming. That doesn’t mean we can be blasé about it. The same people who scream bloody murder about a <5% tax hike apparently are unconcerned that a significant chunk of the earth is going to become literally uninhabitable.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  16. 16
    Grace Annam says:

    The planet is going to be just fine. We, however, are a bit more delicate:

    http://humon.deviantart.com/art/Mother-Gaia-207388674

    Grace

  17. 17
    Charles S says:

    Of note, the paper Ben references is not the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario is most famously laid out by James Hansen et al..

    Notably, it is not the Venus scenario that is commonly imagined and about which JutGory is presumably complaining. Burning even all of the available fossil carbon does not set us on a path to a boiled ocean and a baked Earth.

    Instead it (or even burning 1/3 of remaining fossil carbon, depending on how responsive temperature actually turns out to be to CO2 doublings) only sets us on a path to a world with a global average temperature of 16-25 C higher than current temperatures (Ben’s link deals with a scenario of 10-12C higher than current temperatures), which renders most of the world uninhabitable to humans (the high plateaus of the Himalayas and the Altoplano would be the most habitable regions), and also adds sufficient moisture to the atmosphere to deplete the ozone layer, which would be particularly inconvenient for life on high plateaus.

    Life on Earth would survive even in that worst case scenario, but it is far from certain that humans would.

  18. 18
    Grace Annam says:

    Charles,

    Thanks for the link to that Hansen et al paper. It made for very interesting reading. I’m not enough of a climatologist to follow all of the argument, and I’ll have to re-read to understand his argument better, but I was able to follow some of it. His conclusions are fascinating, and sobering.

    Grace

  19. 19
    Brian says:

    I’m not being a troll when I say the following. Considering the likely effects of the overpopulation which is what drives the ecological crisis, I think we owe all the genocidal maniacs of history a small apology. A half a billion people on a carbon-fuel energy system might have been fine. Close to eight billion, it was pretty predictable that the system would break down somewhere.

    So half the James Bond villains, Ra’s al Ghul, the Mole Man and Lord Voldemort need to be reconsidered in popular culture at the very least. You’re all creative types, I encourage you to start using art and conversation to rehabilitate the reputations of these misunderstood misanthropes. I’ll be starting a novel from the Red Skull’s point of view as soon as I have time.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JerkassHasAPoint

  20. 20
    Ben Lehman says:

    Uhm, dude. Your premise that genocide is a driver of population reduction on any ecological timescale is wrong. (also, your imbedded premise that environmental damage was less back in the 19th century when populations were lower.)

    Human population has been on an exponential growth curve forever. The only things that seem to be bending the curve are industrialization, modernization, and feminism. Genocide is barely a blip on population totals. Famines and plagues don’t have any long-term impact (within a generation or two the local population usually bounces back.)

    China, to take an example that I know well, has for the past 200 years lost almost 200 million to famine (and a comparatively small ~50 million to civil war and genocide) and still managed to raise it’s 300 million population to 1.2 billion.

    Regardless, population isn’t the problem. Dirty energy and governmental apathy is. Why don’t we fix our shit in simple, obvious ways before endorsing horrifying, racist bullshit that, in addition to being nightmareishly evil, will almost certainly make our environmental problems much, much worse?

    yrs–
    –Ben

  21. 21
    Brian says:

    Why don’t we fix our shit in simple, obvious ways

    Ben, I’m as idealistic as the next Trekkie. But let’s face it, humanity doesn’t have a track record that engenders confidence in anything OTHER than the species doing the most stupid, violent, destructive thing possible. I’m all for us getting our collective shit together and exploring space as one united race, eliminating poverty and leaving no one excluded from a bold new frontier.

    But that’s not the way to bet on this game ending.

    If you don’t want it to be horrifying and racist and nightmarishly evil like the vast majority of human history, I have a counter-proposal. How about a propaganda campaign to try and get 7.5 billion people to beat themselves to death in a 4 foot hole full of organic compost, dressed in loincloths made of tree seeds? If nothing else it’d be unlike the way humanity usually resolves a supply problem.

    But this will end up the way it always does. People choose sides and rip each other apart until the survivors feel they have enough stuff. Yes, I suppose racism gets involved as people choose sides, but so does every other way humans decide us vs. them. Human differences are wonderful things… until people have to decide who to kill and who to team up with. Personally I’m siding with the near sighted, we will need to work together better than most.

  22. 22
    Charles S says:

    Brian,

    And the 450 million growing to 1.2 billion people in China have produced 9% of the world’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions, while the 23 million growing to 300 million people in the US have produced 29% of the world’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions, demonstrating the extent to which it is resource use, not population, that matters (and much of China’s CO2 emissions have been for power to produce goods for export to the US, so those percentages underestimate the CO2 share of US consumption). A billion people in the world living like US citizens would have put us pretty much where we are now, half a billion US citizens as the total world population would reach almost certainly incipient global warming some time later this century. We have had 40 years of warning of the problem and have done very little to respond to it, so I doubt that the extra time available to the world of few rich people would respond in time either. (And that is all leaving aside Ben’s critically important point that genocidal mass murder never had any chance of producing a world of 500 million modern rich people).

  23. 23
    Charles S says:

    Grace,

    Thanks. I’m not enough of a climatologist to fully follow it either, but it is certainly sobering.

    Worth noting, while 10-12 C (18 – 21 F) and 16-25 C (29- 45 F) are reasonable possible disastrous outcomes from the current situation, they are both almost certainly avoidable with gradual changes to fuel utilization. It does mean leaving the vast majority of coal, tar sands oil, and frackable natural gas in the ground, and preferably never starting commercial deep sea clathrate mining (a source not even included in the proven reserves we need to only use a small fraction of), but it is doable. But the more commonly discussed 2 C (4 F) and 4 C (7 F) warming scenarios (more commonly discussed because they will happen in the lifetimes of some people now living, and because they are getting very close to being basically unavoidable) are still cataclysmic events.

    2 C (4 F) was originally developed as a bright line because researchers estimated that it was the point at which rapid climate change would start to cause substantial ecological disruption. Subsequent research has demonstrated that that initial estimate was too optimistic: 2 C (4 F) global warming will kick us out of the holocene range.

    The 4 C (7 F) world has been described by the World Bank thusly.

    So yes, some people mistakenly talk about the Venus scenario as a thing that can happen (when really all that can happen is the moist runaway scenario where some areas of the Earth are probably still habitable for humans), and the valid worst case scenarios are still certainly avoidable (although easily reachable by a business as usual approach that denialists like Jut Gory and RonF prefer), but we are very quickly approaching the point where the denialists have succeeded in bringing about disaster in the form of the 2 C (4 F) or 4 C (7 F) warming scenarios.

    As a final note, in relation to a point that g&w raised in a previous discussion of global warming, there is a lot of uncertainty in the upper bound of the climate response to doubling CO2 (thus, we can’t say whether it only takes burning 1/3 of the fossil fuel reserves to get to the moist runaway scenario, or whether we’d need to burn pretty much all of the reserves to get there). The lower bound is much less uncertain. It is highly unlikely that doubling CO2 will produce less than 2 C (4 F) global warming. The most optimistic/aggressive of the IPCC scenarios projects that we will double pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 by 2100. The business as usual scenario projects that we will double atmospheric CO2 by 2050. So even if we are very lucky and the climate response is lower than expected, we still don’t have much time to avoid the disastrous 2 C (4 F) global warming

  24. 24
    Charles S says:

    One mistake in my last post I just noticed:

    Even if we assume that the denialists (in their luke-warmist form) are right, and the climate response to CO2 is only 1 C (this is actually the part of the response that is driven purely by the physics of CO2 light absorption spectra, neglecting all feedbacks), burning all the fossil fuel reserves gets us to the moist greenhouse apocalyptic scenario. For any credible climate response (e.g. 2 C), merely burning half the fossil fuel reserves is enough to eventually get us to the moist greenhouse scenario.

  25. 25
    Charles S says:

    Oh, and I cross-posted with Brain, so my response to Brain was to his first stupid comment, not his even worse second comment.

    Brain, your proposed response to the problem of global warming is stupid, vile, and utterly unproductive. By advocating for idiotic and ridiculous evil rather than for moderate and achievable fixes to the actual problems, you are throwing chaff into the discussion and contributing to the problem at a similar rate as JutGory and his allies (fortunately, the Heartland Institute pays fewer people to throw up your style of nonsense than it pays to throw up JutGory’s style of nonsense, so we get a lot more advocacy for doing nothing than we do for genocidal mass murder, so JutGory’s arguments mirror arguments that are doing substantial harm at the global scale, while your arguments are merely an ugly embarrassment). Advocating global scale mass murder is sufficiently obscene and irrelevant that it is effectively advocating a do-nothing response.

    There is no requirement to “getting our collective shit together and exploring space as one united race, eliminating poverty and leaving no one excluded from a bold new frontier,” in order to avoid the moist greenhouse apocalypse. There is not even a requirement to do any of those things to avoid the 4 C (7 F) scenario. The sort of changes required can be done in a capitalist world with poverty and obscene wealth. It can be done in a world with war and oppression.

    Your idea for how to kill enough people also ignores the fact that some people (e.g. Americans) have a vastly larger CO2 footprint than others, but your idea is sufficiently stupid and vile that I won’t engage with it to the extent of describing how it could be made marginally less stupid.

  26. 26
    Ampersand says:

    Ben, I’m as idealistic as the next Trekkie. But let’s face it, humanity doesn’t have a track record that engenders confidence in anything OTHER than the species doing the most stupid, violent, destructive thing possible.

    You make it sound like human history is unrelentingly negative. But when we were in high school, gay rights was a FAR left position, and marriage equality and trans rights were basically unheard of. Without denying that there is progress still to be made, I think the improvements in these areas qualify as a secular miracle.

    Democracy is much more common today than centuries ago, and seems to reliably be becoming more common with each generation. American Democracy, which started out with just a handful of rich white male usually-property-owners having the right to vote, has improved enormously (although there are still miles to go).

    There are a lot of terrible things in human history. But there’s real reason to hope. Cynicism and hopelessness can be a funny position to take, but it’s not the most realistic position to take.

  27. 27
    Ampersand says:

    Advocating global scale mass murder is sufficiently obscene and irrelevant that it is effectively advocating a do-nothing response.

    It’s not clear from your response that you understood Brian was being tongue in cheek? (At least, I think he was.)

    That said, even if Brian was being tongue in cheek, I do think Brian’s cynicism and negativism encourages a do-nothing-because-it’s-all-hopeless response to things like global warming which ultimately helps the right wing.

  28. 28
    Brian says:

    Best friend I had in the 1980s, you said;

    There are a lot of terrible things in human history. But there’s real reason to hope. Cynicism and hopelessness can be a funny position to take, but it’s not the most realistic position to take.

    Damn, that makes me nostalgic for our Reagan era debates. :)

    this is a fight I have been having since I was about 12. If I say it’s raining, I get accused of taking a pro-flood stance. I didn’t make the rules, I’m not advocating the rules, I’m not saying the rules are just, fair, honorable or desirable. I just know what the rules are.

    Does human history have the occasional bright spots? Sure. Then human cognitive biases, simple greed and the desire for someone else to take responsibility kick in. We have an enlightened age prophets of a few decades, then the crowds demand “away with prophets, we want a King.” And we get stuck with a Saul and it all goes to hell again.

    Do I think it’s a waste of time to try and build a paradise on Earth? Sure. Do I have any expectation that humanity will finally become civilized in the Asimov Galactic Empire sense? Nope.

    At the risk of being trendy, George RR Martin sums our situation up brilliantly in his masterwork. A threat arises that can wipe out civilization and possibly human life. And we are all to wrapped up in petty soap opera games of status and greed to fix it. If civilization and humanity survives it will be due to stupid blind luck, not because we deserve to survive.

    The black rhino deserved to survive. The Siberian Tiger deserves to survive. Their extinction is because newly rich Chinese think their body parts are better than Viagra. That’s my argument for why we are doomed in brief.

    I know the rules. I don’t approve of them. I didn’t write them. I don’t think they are just, right fair or desirable. But those are the rules and the rules determine how the game will be played and how it will end.

    Standing in the rain and saying you think the rain is negative won’t dry you off any faster. The correct path is to get soaked, watch the clouds, figure out what to do when the storm passes.

  29. 29
    Ben Lehman says:

    Your view of how the world works is basically incorrect. It doesn’t matter if it’s cynical or not, or if I like, it’s wrong.

    You’re in error. You can choose to fix that error, or not.

    Note that nothing I’ve said is about what I think that the future of the world should be (except, uh, less genocide). It’s about what we should do, right now. Do I think that the US will take serious action about climate change? Probably. Probably not in time to stop, say, 4c of warming, which will result in widespread devastation but not the collapse of industrial civilization or the rendering of most of the planet uninhabitable.

    We’ll make the mistake, we’ll ameloriate it as best we can, we’ll cope, we’ll move on.

    The reason I want us to do stuff now is to make it slightly better for future generations, not to create a perfect utopian society. I don’t particularly like utopias: DS9 is my favorite trek series.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  30. 30
    JutGory says:

    Lee1,

    No, I do not think that they literally think the world will disappear. That is part of the “hyperbole” in the cartoon that people are talking about. However, environmentalism is about the closest thing that liberal/progressives have to a doomsday cult. The comic conveyed that message. All the predictions are about dire consequences in the future that must be fixed now! But, no, the world is not going to end. And, no, I was not thinking specifically of the Venus scenario Charles S mentioned.

    Ampersand @ 11, yes, I got the hyperbole. After all, you will note that I did not criticize your flawed cartography, the fact that Saturn is misplaced and not drawn to scale (or Mars is mis-drawn), the inexplicable absence of Orion, and that a person of that size would likely have a significant gravitational force of his own and have no need to stand on the planet. I got all of that. I got your message too. I was just pointing out a message that is there that you may not have intended to put there.

    But, I am a “denialist,” so what do you care? It reminds me of something I read recently:

    “To me, your response comic seems like a refusal to engage with good-faith criticism in a good-faith manner. Even if you were right and your critics are hypocrites, that’s not a logical defense of your cartoon; it’s just an ad hom attack on your critics. Just because your critics have flaws doesn’t make the flaws in your comics magically disappear.” -Ampersand

    If your only response is, well, of course a “denialist” would criticize my comic, you have not made a substantive response at all.

    Myca @ 13:

    And yes, they’ll use weasel phrases like “even assuming x is true” that implies that there’s some sort of legitimate debate on the matter when there’s not.

    No, it does not suggest that at all; rather, it is an attempt NOT to debate those items. But the debate IS relevant for the comic. He is presenting “denialist” arguments. They are largely strawmen versions of arguments, but the comic presents someone who is critiquing global warming. Saying, “even assuming x is true” means that my comment was not addressed to the substance of the cartoon, but the form in which it was done. Honestly, what could you have possibly gotten out of the comic if you do not realize that there are points of view on the topic that differ from yours?

    Ben Lehman @15:

    That doesn’t mean we can be blasé about it.

    Wanna bet? You just validated Panel #3, which is probably the panel with the least amount of straw in that man.

  31. 31
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    The best way to change things (and the hardest) is to stop saying

    “don’t do that”

    and start saying

    “do ____ instead of doing that.”

    IOW, change the conversation from good/bad to better/worse. Because that is the only way to honestly deal with the fact that some “bad” things may be the best option.

    As an example, in my own state of Massachusetts, people are trying to close the Pilgrim nuclear power plant that is located on the south shore near Boston. But at the public level it is an oddly one-sided discussion, because pretty much every time they talk about it they only talk about how bad Pilgrim is.

    Yes. Pilgrim sucks. Yes, Pilgrim has risks, and costs.

    And? So what?

    Without an actual alternative to Pilgrim, there’s not much way to understand whether Pilgrim is better or worse than what will happen next.

    I mean, there are only two basic solutions, which are “stop using the power that Pilgrim generated” or “generate it somewhere else.” Assuming that the first one won’t work, then what?

    We could shut down Pilgrim and raise gas taxes and build giant solar and wind and tidal generators. And that would be “better…” provided that we could also live with the various downsides of THOSE things, because there ain’t no solution without a downside. The wind farms and solar farms have a cost, too–and they don’t generate as much power, as well, as consistently.

    In fact, “clean nuclear” might well be the best solution–it’s certainly in the top five. But if you only talk about the risks/costs of nuclear without talking about the risks/costs of the alternatives then you’re having a dishonest conversation.

  32. 32
    Ben Lehman says:

    12-15c of warming isn’t Venus. Of course, you knew that (maybe you … don’t? I don’t really understand what things you’re saying are purposeful ignorance in order to make an argument and what things are actually you being ignorant.)

    Anyway: The Earth has been that hot before and been fine. It will suck for, you know, mammals. But the biosphere will persist; even thrive. I have absolutely no doubt about that.

    From a personal perspective, I’d like as much of the Earth to be inhabitable by mammals as possible. I am ideologically and irrationally in favor of mammals! Particularly humans.

    I think you misunderstood my comment about tax cuts. There’s no particular connection between taxes and global warming (lots of people think a carbon tax is a good idea: I’m fairly skeptical.) It’s simply that, as it happens, the political groups in the US who don’t believe that unprecedented carbon emissions will lead to warming (through well-established physical and biological processes) have a startling overlap with the people who claim to believe that very small changes in the marginal tax rate will lead to a totalitarian communist hellscape (through nebulous and unverified political and economic processes).

    I find this funny.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  33. 33
    Charles S says:

    Ben,

    I think JutGory (in referencing the Venus scenario that he was not referencing) was responding to my statement: “Notably, it is not the Venus scenario that is commonly imagined and about which JutGory is presumably complaining.”

    I mentioned the actual Venus-scenario (positive feedback raises the temperature to the point where the oceans boil off, upper atmosphere water splits, hydrogen escapes to space -> Venus) as one of the scenarios that I sometimes hear mentioned as a possibility, which is actually not a possibility (it will probably happen in a billion or so years as the sun gets brighter, but not from burning all the fossil carbon in the world over the time scale that fossil carbon CO2 will remain in the atmosphere). Since JutGory absolutely refuses to specify any of the “dire predictions” that make environmentalism a “doomsday cult”, I was forced to guess at what he meant, and decided to be charitable and present a dire prediction I sometimes hear (from non-scientists) that is not going to happen.

  34. 34
    JutGory says:

    Ben,
    What Charles S said.

    And, I did not respond to your comment on tax cuts. I responded to your about not being responsive to the crisis of global warming. When the Paid Spokesperson for the crisis (Al Gore) is not a scientist, but a politician, I become suspicious that we are not talking about science at all; we are talking about power.

    So, yes, Amp’s cartoon is right to the extent that Al Gore is a sticking point for some people. But, not because “we can’t let him win.” It is because he demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of some in the movement. He is making a shit-load of money off of the crisis (and you are right to be skeptical of carbon credits), he is not a scientist (so why the hell should I give a damn bit of credence to anything he says), and he probably uses more carbon in a year than I could ever hope to use in my lifetime.

    Charles S, as for “dire predictions,” a slight personal tangent. Growing up in the 70′s, I saw a commercial. It must have been after the oil embargo, but only by a couple of years. it showed this kid walking along the beach. He was probably a few years older than I was at the time. He was complaining that, if we did not start conserving oil, we might run out and, he might never be able to drive a car. I thought, “That could be me!” However, tonight after work, and over 25 years of driving, I have to fill up the tank again. Maybe I will do it tomorrow. I know there will still be some left.

    So, yeah, I am skeptical. Some call me a “denialist.” That’s fine. It is a nice, Orwellian sounding word; it is kind of appropriate for the movement in my view. But, I am not going to be bullied and manipulated by environmentalists. They tricked me when I was 5 or 6, but I am smarter than most 6-year olds now. And, the global warming crowd has taken to using children to guilt-trip adults. The tactics don’t appear to have changed.

    -Jut

  35. 35
    Ampersand says:

    Jut, “carbon credits” and “carbon tax” are not even remotely the same thing.

    Within the scope of the exaggeration that’s normal for political cartoons, I’d deny the charge of having created strawmen. Panel 1: There are basically legions of conservatives who have argued that if global warming turns out to be a problem the market will naturally sort it all out. Panel 2: The human tendency to be entrenched in arguments once they’ve been committed to is, I assume, too well-known for even you to deny it exists. Thousands of conservatives have indeed called global warming a hoax. And the right-wing obsession with ad hom arguments referring to Al Gore is very real. Some polls show that Gore is a huge issue for conservatives (although I’ve seen contrary evidence on this as well); the likelihood of conservatives denying climate change exists or matters goes way up if the questioner mentions Gore. Plus, conservatives bring Gore up all the time when they discuss this issue; the National Review’s climate blog is even called “Planet Gore.”

    Finally, the third panel is taken almost word-for-word from online arguments I’ve had with conservatives. Are you really saying you’ve never run into the lefties-hate-modernism-and-want-to-take-control argument?

    You’re not skeptical, Jut. You admitted the last time we discussed this that you couldn’t think of a single piece of evidence that could ever change your mind on global warming. That mean’s you’re a Believer, not a skeptic.

    At least you’re marching in lockstep with your party’s leadership!

    Nicole Gaudiano of Gannett News Service recently reported that Rep. Wayne Gilchrest asked to be on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio refused to allow it unless Gilchrest would say that humans have not contributed to global warming. The Maryland Republican refused and was denied a seat.

    Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), both research scientists, also were denied seats on the committee. Normally, relevant expertise would be considered an advantage. In this case, it was a disqualification.

    (Edited to remove a bad usage of the word “literally.” Bad me! Bad me!)

  36. 36
    brian says:

    (Edited to remove a bad usage of the word “literally.” Bad me! Bad me!)

    Put those back, your integrity is at stake! ;)

    Apropos of nothing, thank you for mentioning Roscoe Bartlett, who was one of my favorite politicians of my home state, primaried out by a tea party douche bag. (And if anyone declares douche bag a no-no ablest term, to quote Crow T. Robot, “Bite me.” Politically correct wanking is for wankers. for example, this is where it leads. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/j-nelson-aviance/i-am-not-cisgendered_b_5598113.html )

    Amp, you need to learn to cut your losses on these. In the time you spend debating one wanker, you could do more cartoons than Dave Sim!

    http://biblehub.com/matthew/10-14.htm

  37. 37
    Ampersand says:

    Brian, I’m not sure if you’re agreeing with J Nelson Aviance, and dissing the word “cis,” or if you’re saying that J Nelson Aviance himself is being over-PC by objecting to “cis.” I think Aviance makes a couple of good points but overall is bending over backwards to be offended.

    Just in case it’ s the word “cisgendered” you object to, let me say I use the word “cisgendered” (and its variant “cis”) all the time, and I bet many other folks here do too. It’s a useful and, frankly, unavoidable term among the people I hang out with, and in the discussions I get into.

    In my experience, the only people in the world who object to the word “cis” are cis people who aren’t friends with many trans folks. But if you haven’t lived in a social circle or community in which there’s a real need for “cis” or a word like “cis,” then with all due respect, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Isn’t it weird that people who complain that “PC” people police other people’s language, are so eager to police other people’s language themselves – for instance, by objecting to the word cisgender? (Again, I don’t know if that was what Brian was objecting to, so I don’t mean Brian here. But plenty of people do, bizarrely, object to the word.)

    Believe me, I do cut my losses on working on Alas! If I wasn’t drawing comics I’d be posting and commenting here MUCH more, as I did before “Hereville” began.

  38. 38
    brian says:

    Amp, I honestly don’t care about the language wank I used as an example of excessive navel gazing. I’m just amazed at how people navel gaze instead of doing things.

    Last month under one of my many aliases, I spent 5 hours talking to a 19 YO MtF from a small town in Indiana. She was having trouble finding a therapist and without one, the only endocrinologist she knew of in town wouldn’t start her on T-blockers. She was pleading for help in one particular forum and was showing signs of suicidal ideation.

    I’m good at these things. Talked her down, google stalked endocrinologists and therapists until I found a LCSW-C and an endocrinologist, both with gender community experience, gave her the information. discussed her life plan, helped her stay motivated and focused on her future and not some pretty horrific past issues.

    I spent the next 2 weeks checking up on her every few days, last I heard she had appointments and was reporting much improved mood. And I do that sort of thing ALL THE TIME.

    All that took me about as long as that bloviating PC nitwit spent writing a wank job on feeling he shouldn’t be assigned a term, as if how HE feels matters.

    Wanking is fine, but when people are killing themselves and feeling alone and helpless, it’s time to stop. Nuff said.

  39. 39
    Charles S says:

    JutGory,

    Al Gore is only THE spokesperson for the dangers of anthropogenic global warming in the right wing media. If there were an actual single spokesperson for the dangers of AGW, I’d say it was James Hansen. But then, he’s an extremely knowledgeable climate scientist who has been studying global warming since you were a 6 year old being gulled by television commercials, so what would he know?

    (Bill McKibben and Michael Mann also come to mind as spokespeople for the dangers of AGW. McKibben is an activist and a journalist and Mann is another one of those silly climate scientists in the thrall of the mighty Al Gore.)

  40. 40
    markx says:

    38 brian says: July 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    You do sound like a decent and caring human being. But that is perhaps somewhat off topic here.

    I see Jut made a perfectly simple and valid point. I wondered why you were all jumping all over him for that, but then later I see he had been labelled “a denier” from his previous postings.

    Fair enough, if that is the way you feel.

    But I also see several in here stating “how serious the situation is” and then in the next sentence stating; “but I must admit all this climate science is a bit beyond me”. (paraphrased)

    This is an interesting position to take: Simply going with the ‘authority’ of the moment. That may be fair enough, and may turn out to be the correct approach, but (in my opinion) you are naive in ignoring that there are myriad pressures, influences, politics, political pragmatism, beliefs and theoretical concepts behind it all.

    You ask him what would convince him. I will answer from my viewpoint as I am sitting on the fence because I know enough about data and statistics to know we really have just started to measure all this.

    Well, lets start with what we do have:

    A knowledge of absorption spectrum physics of certain gases, and the measure of their rising levels in the atmosphere. Arctic sea ice decline, some recent Greenland melt, ongoing sea level rise, some retreating glaciers, some sea surface warming. Rising surface temperatures over the last 50 years, after a decline to the 70s. That’s all there is, and there is plenty of question regarding how “unprecedented” all of these may be.

    Surface temperature records (land, lower atmosphere) are OK, but only go back a century or so, and generally we have simply a recorded maximum or minimum on instruments of unknown accuracy, taken under often not ideal conditions. So, we adjust all that data to account for what we think are the problems. And, over the last 50 years, we drop about 35% of our recording stations as marginal or unnecessary. Over that time period too, regime and cultural changes take place in vast swathes of the world, and we lump their old data in with our new. It is a pretty brief, sketchy and constantly re-adjusted record.

    Now, the oceans: We all know 70% of the incoming energy is absorbed in that vast heat sink, the oceans. And that the energy storage capacity of the ocean is huge in relation to that of the atmosphere (about 100,000 times more, given the vastly greater tonnage of water in the oceans, and the vastly greater specific heat capacity of water compared with the atmosphere). (It so works out that a heat transfer of 4°C worth of energy from the atmosphere to the oceans would raise the temperature of the oceans … drum roll…. 0.001°C.)

    So, we had better know what is happening in the oceans, right? And, how well and for how long have we been measuring ocean temperature? Well, we have only been doing a decent job of it for about 10 years. (Argo). Before that, over the previous 50 years, it was all shipboard, very patchy, (mainly shipping lanes, mainly NH) with changes of instrument over that time (bucket and thermometer, engine intake water, reversing thermometers and XBT probes).

    Retreating glaciers? Uncovering plants and organic matter that was engulfed in ice 1000, 2000, 4000, or 6,000 years ago.

    Sea levels; rising fairly constantly over the last few hundred years (tide guages) but accelerating now…. according to satellites comparing with the old tide guage measures, while unfortunately(?) modern tide guage measures show no accelaration. (Which tide guage measure are wrong, the old or the new?)

    Greenland ice loss? Measured by GRACE, CryoSAT, and IceSAT satellites – with myriad calculations to deal with satellite orbital variations and a lack of a known TRF (terrestrial reference frame) even having to include the GPS satellite network, then we have to bring in modelling of isostatic rebound.

    Arctic sea ice decline? Yes, this may be the one But even in this case we find we do not have accurate measures in the pre-satellite era. Some maps and charts from the 70s and the early part of the 20th century show lower ice areas than today (of course, countered by more recent reconstructions).

    Proof of the theory of CAGW to me? (yes, with a C, it is either a major problem or it ain’t).

    1. Ocean temperature measures showing a constant increase (ongoing Argo project) backed up by good surface monitoring also showing an increase… lets say over 30 years.

    2. Tide guage evidence (or even visual evidence) of accelerating sea level change.

    3. Continuing or accelerating loss of arctic ice area.

    4. Glacial melt uncovering pre-holocene landscapes.

    It seems important that we do understand what is happening, as the idealistic changes touted are only achievable with substantial dismantling of our current economic system. Most solutions so far are merely political posturing.

    Regards

    Mark.