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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #49

Posted on 8 December 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sunday, Dec 2 through Saturday, Dec. 8

Editor's Pick

Can 2018’s extreme weather persuade skeptics that the climate is changing? 

Woolsey Fire Malibu CA Nov 9 2018 

A firefighter is silhouetted by a burning home along Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) during the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, Calif., on Nov. 9. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Monstrous weather events have crowded 2018. While many coastal residents in the East were still recovering from Hurricanes Florence and Michael raging fires in California killed a record number of people and destroyed thousands of structures.Climate change has worsened the dry and hot climate in the West, directly contributing to more frequent and severe wildfires. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, which the U.S. government recently released, ;states that extreme weather events will intensify and become more frequent.

How do these disasters affect people’s perceptions of climate change?

To those already convinced by climate change science, extreme weather events are evidence that it’s already changing our world. Climate skeptics, however, do not always see the link, as when President Trump insisted that the California wildfires resulted from poor forest management, not climate change.

Can 2018’s extreme weather persuade skeptics that the climate is changing?, Analysis by Wanyun Shao, Monkey Cage, Washington Post, Dec 7, 2018

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Dec 2, 2018

Mon Dec 3, 2018

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Wed Dec 5, 2018

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Sat Dec 8, 2018

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Comments 1 to 11:

  1. Related research: Political ideology and views about climate change in the European Union.

    "There is a strong political divide on climate change in the US general public, with Liberals and Democrats expressing greater belief in and concern about climate change than Conservatives and Republicans. Recent studies find a similar though less pronounced divide in other countries. "

    I live outside of america and a  lot of the tribalism in America seems generated by conservatives. Calling people libtards, constantly trying to shut down government and growing conservative opposition to environmetal laws doesn't help.

    Sure theres obviously some fault on both sides. Al Gores book politicised the issue within America,  but it seems fault is skewed towards the conservatives I'm afraid. Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton seemed to bend over backwards to compromise but were both vilified, and are accused of being hard left. It's remarkable, because in my country the democrats are considered a practical, moderate centre right party!

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  2. No doubt there will come a point where more extreme weather is so obvious and undeniable, that most sceptics will finally undersand, but that point will come too late. I think we have to hammer the message that more heat energy must lead to more intense and frequent heatwaves, stronger hurricanes and more intense rainfall, because its basic physics, and also generally supported by empirical evidence over recent decades.

    They say facts don't change peoples minds. Maybe with the most dogmatic and politically tribal, but I think its a nonsensical statement really. The article clearly shows once sceptical people accept weather is changing, ie it's a fact, it changes their minds.

    A lot of people really struggle with science, its a hard subject but persistence pays off.

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  3. nigelj: You wrote:

    Sure theres obviously some fault on both sides. Al Gores book politicised the issue within America, but it seems fault is skewed towards the conservatives I'm afraid.

    As a citizen who has followed US national poitics for more than sixty years, I take exception to your statement. The fossil fuel industry and their political allies "politicized" man-made climate change long before Al Gore's book came out. You should not state that there is "fault on both sides." 

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  4. John Hartz @3, I think the issue with Al Gores book is it was written by a well down prominent Democrat and so gave the Republicans an easy excuse to ignore the climate issue because they dont like Al Gore. It was an excellent book but unfortunately its created some of the division even although the content should count, not the writer. Maybe I could have been clearer.

    I was being general about fault on both sides of politics. Democrats don't get everything right, even on the climate issue, and I didn't want my comments being crossed out as excessively politically one sided. 

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  5. It is very tricky to go from attribution of the climate change component of extreme weather to convincing skeptics. To begin with, skeptics are not skeptical, they are flogging excuses and long-debunked favorite "urban myths". There is no good faith, and hard physics about CO² absoption spectra are likely harder to ignore than aberrant weather. Moreover, on popular media people often list weather events which themselves (out of context) are not all that extreme. This only serves to muddy the thinking all the more. Attribution works with statistics and probabilities and ranges of certainty ... these are not good material for convincing stories. Pointing to local weather phenomena seems a dubious strategy, all things considered.

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  6. Here is a recent climate change impact story about a new potential impact issue.

    Climate change could wake up Canada's dormant volcanoes The National (video part of News Broadcast), CBC News, Dec 5, 2018 - Scientists at Simon Fraser University argue that climate change is destabilizing volcanoes around the world.

    This type of impact is not included in evaluations that try to claim that imposing climate change impacts on future generations is Just Fine (justified).  And many already anticipated impacts are excluded because they are 'not certain enough to negatively impact the richest enough to be included in the evaluation'. And even the negative impacts included in those evaluations get 'discounted', meaning they are evaluated speciofically from the perspective of the current day richest.

    Those evaluations incorrectly try to claim that the activity today that is creating the future problems will have develop sustainable wealth that grows into the future, gaining a value that exceeds the costs of climate change impacts. My MBA training helps me understand the fallacy of that type of evaluation. Perceptions (or measures) of wealth that are due to unsustainable or harmful activity will not continue to be wealth into the future.

    And, in addition to the understanding that current government leaders are being incorrectly influenced to make-up and promote poor excuses for continuing to allow more harm to be done to future generations (to protect incorrectly developed ultimately unsustainable perceptions of prosperity and superiority), winning Leadership is also failing to support added investigation into, and monitoring of, new potential climate change threats like this potential for climate change to result in a major volcanic event to occur near a heavily populated part of Canada far sooner than it would have otherwise occurred.

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  7. I agree with John Hartz. Al Gore did not politicize climate change. And there are not 'Fine people on all sides of the issue'.

    My sense of what has happened is:

    • The global community has 'continued to improve the awareness and understanding of what is really going on and what is required for the development of sustainable improvements for humanity into the distant future'.
    • The improved awareness and understanding is identifying that a lot of the developed socioeconomic-political systems are incorrectly producing perceptions of superiority relative to others that need significant correction to reduce (and ideally eliminate) the harm being done (are ultimately unsustainable).
    • People who have incorrectly developed perceptions of opportunity for prosperity or superiority relative to others are divisively polarizing themselves away from the improved awareness and understanding.

    The resistance to the improving awareness and understanding of climate science is just one of the biggest and most recent cases in the envelope of all the cases of 'developed popular and profitable activity that is discovered to be harmful after it has developed into an undeniably big enough problem that is harder to excused or ignore'.

    And I am bemused by people who claim there is 'another more important correction', like the plastic waste in the oceans or the cases of extreme poverty that still exist (in spite of global wealth growing much faster than the global population), because they are basically bringing up other cases in the same envelope that climate change is in 'the cases of incorrect development of perceptions of superiority relative to others any way that can be gotten away with, especially in ways that are unsustainable and understandably harmful to Others (and the future generations of humanity are the largest group of Others, and they are easy to negatively impact because they don't vote)'.

    What can be seen to be happening is that:

    • Leading up to and since the 1972 Stockholm Conference, there is evidence that many parties were investigating the potential unacceptability of aspects of developed human activity.
    • Global collective collaborative improvement of awareness and understanding has continued to progress to the current 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (and the Paris Agreement that is action to achieve the Climate Action Goal), and is likely to continue to progress in spite of efforts to stifle and discredit the efforts.
    • People who have become aware that the improving awareness and understanding threatens their developed perceptions of superiority have been trying to divisively polarize as many people as possible away from the improved awareness and understanding (they have been keeping people from learning how incorrect their developed beliefs and preferences are by harmfully applying the improved understanding of how to influence people.)
    • Many people have been easily motivated into liking harmful attitudes, like greed or intolerance, and divisively polarize themselves away from the improved awareness and understanding of the corrections required for the future of humanity. And people who have less interaction with a diversity of other people (and have developed a smaller worldview), can be more easily impressed that way - hence the divisive polarization of less urbanized, less globalized, populations against 'those Others, especially against those Others who try to tell them that they are incorrect to like (and dislike) what they have developed a liking (and disliking) for'.

    The root of the problem is the systems that develop people who have 'Won' by incorrectly developing ultimately unsustainable perceptions of superiority relative to others. A major part of that problem is the way that developed popular beliefs can be difficult to correct, especially if the beliefs develop and support incorrect but profitable activity.

    And that leads to the understanding that a diversity of places including the USA, Saudi Arabia, and Russia are in need of significant correction, because they have all allowed people to develop significantly incorrect perceptions of superiority relative to others. And that understanding extends to recognizing that many other regions face the 'competitive pressure' to Win by more incorrectly promoting and excusing harmful unsustainable beliefs and actions - the classic “Why should we behave better when we think others are improving their chances of Winning by getting away with behaving less correctly” - which is undeniably a competitive spiral to behave as harmfully as can be gotten away with.

    So Al Gore did not politicize the issue. And 'alarmists' who try to raise awareness of the potential extreme results of reluctance to act to correct what is causing the climate changing impacts (extreme results that become increasingly likely results with every year of inadequate corrective action), are not polarizing the issue. People who do not like the improved awareness and understanding are politically divisively polarizing themselves (and as many others as they can get away with easily impressing) away from the improving awareness and understanding of the required corrections.

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  8. When I named the USA, Saudi Arabia and Russia in my comment at 7 my main motivation was that they appeared to be the strongest examples of the potential results of poorly regulated or poorly limited activity in the more developed/wealthy nations (incorrect power in the hands of incorrectly wealthy people). They had developed very powerful incorrect leadership (China can become just like them, or it can develop in a different direction - I am watching to see which way their leadeship development actually goes).

    Now I am reading about the refusal by the USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia to admit to the awareness and understanding presented in the recent IPCC climate change impact assessment.

    The Guardian report "US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge"

    The current leadership of those nations truly stand alone in their divisive polarization away from improved awareness and understanding. They are acting for the benefit of incorrectly developed wealthy people.

    The actions by the Trump led WH regarding Russia and the Saudi Arabia make a lot of sense in the context of their leaders having personal wealth motivations to do the undeniably incorrect things they are doing regarding climate chiange and many other issues that matter to the future of humanity.

    As a post script: Kuwait is just a nation in the Middle East the USA took explicit control of when Saddam's Army was pushed back all those years ago. It has been a puppet nation of the USA ever since the USA invaded and took over control under the excuse of Freeing the nation (like they later did to Iraq).

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  9. Maybe the COP24 final statement can be done like the US Supreme court rulings. The majority position is presented as the ruling position (the determination of what is correct), and the minority get to present their alternative opinion (based on alternative facts) and attempt to justify why people should believe that they are Right (the alt-Right).

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  10. OPOF @8, The opposition of America, Russia and Saudi Arabia to the climate accord is no doubt partly to protect the interests of wealthy oligarchs, but also because they are big fossil fuel producers. Naked self interest.

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  11. nigelj @10,

    Self-Interest is not a problem. Everything that happens is the collective result of everyone's 'self interest', the result of what everyone perceives and chooses to believe and do.

    Greed is the problem. Greed is the pursuit of self-interest in ways that are potentially harmful to others (from the perspective of developing a sustainable better future for humanity). Pursuers of greed act in understandably harmful incorrect ways, self-interested ways that are contrary to achieving collectively understood good objectives like the Sustainable Development Goals (and they will rationalize their self-interested justifications).

    And one the the things the greediest have learned to do is to attract the support of people who have other incorrect self-interests that are not in conflict with their own self-interests.

    Greedy people can often be relied upon to support each others greedy pursuits as long as they do not infringe on each other's potential for benefit (the honour among thieves thing, and the horse-trading that can happen in places like the USA Senate and House to get things that have a fundamentally understood incorrectness about them passed with bizarre and understandably unjustifiable additional requirements as part of the original incorrect thing).

    When the collective of greedy people is not able to win their ways, as was the case that has been developing in the USA, the greedy have sought out other Allies.

    The tribally intolerant are an easy fit with the greedy. It can cost a greedy person very little to get the support of a tribally intolerant person (just costs them their humanity - which they may not value anyway). And a tribally intolerant person can be easily impressed into supporting any influence on leadership that appears to get them the harmful understandably incorrect (from the perspective of developing a sustainable better future for humanity) leadership decisions they want.

    That marriage of incorrectly developed self-interests (a United diversity of greed and intolerance supporting each other's understandably harmful and incorrect claims), can be understood to be the most damaging types of developments humanity has ever allowed (it is what the authors of the USA Constitution were trying to govern and limit). And it is the result of humanity collectively failing to limit or govern what happens, allowing each individual harmfully incorrect self-interested belief or action to be gotten away with.

    What can be seen then, is that a diversity of socioeconomic political systems can develop leadership that is influenced or controlled by people who have understandably incorrectly pursued wealth and influence and who incorrectly act to protect their undeserved damaging perceptions of superiority relative to others.

    Socioeconomic-political systems that allow understandably incorrect self-interests to participate in competitions for superiority can then be understood to be the root of the problem. Accepting the Sovereignty of those type of people when they gain control of a nation, and negotiating with those type of people has a history of allowing greater harm to occur before effective corrective actions are taken.

    Will collective humanity let the collective of the current understandably incorrect leadership in the USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (and apparently also Australia) get away with an incorrect global declaration regarding the corrections that climate science has exposed are required? Or will collective humanity more aggressively push for improved awareness and understanding to rule contrary to incorrectly developed self-interests?

    Those questions need to be asked by everyone and be answered by every wealthy powerful person.

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