Not The Onion: Wall Street Journal Hits ‘Rock Bottom’ With Inane Op-Ed Urging ‘More Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’

“Nowadays, in an age of rising population and scarcities of food and water in some regions, it’s a wonder that humanitarians aren’t clamoring for more atmospheric carbon dioxide.”, it’s not The Onion. It’s The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which nowadays is much the same thing.

Once again, the country’s leading financial newspaper is recycling long-debunked myths from disinformers with PhDs posing as climate scientists — in this case, Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer, “In Defense of Carbon Dioxide: The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.”

But what nefarious forces have been demonizing CO2? Let’s see:

  • IMF Chief (2/13): “Unless We Take Action On Climate Change, Future Generations Will Be Roasted, Toasted, Fried And Grilled”
  • World Bank Report (11/12): “A 4°C [7°F] World Can, And Must, Be Avoided” To Avert “Devastating” Impacts
  • Wall Street Journal (1/13): “More Droughts, Floods, Extreme Weather Expected With Warming Climate”

Darn you, major international financial institutions and the paper’s own reporters!

Sure the Journal‘s editorial page has long been part of the effort to advance the pollutocrat do-nothing agenda (see Scientist: “The Murdoch Media Empire Has Cost Humanity Perhaps One or Two Decades in Battle Against Climate Change”).

But this piece is a new low. “It’s shameful even by the dismal standards of that page,” as Columbia Journalism Review puts its in their piece, “The WSJ editorial page hits rock bottom.”

The entire piece is devoted to one of the most risible logical fallacies pushed by the deniers — that because CO2 stimulates plant growth, lots more CO2 must be great for plants. It’s like arguing that because humans need water to live, floods must be a great thing.

This myth has been widely debunked by Skeptical Science and a Climate Denial Crock of the Week video. In their extended debunking of the piece, Media Matters compares the argument to Idiocracy‘s fictional Brawndo.

You may remember Schmitt and Happer as 2 of the 16 authors of a 2012 WSJ op-ed who were labeled “dentists practicing cardiology” by 3 dozen top climate scientists. As Media Matters explains:

  • Neither Have Written Peer-Reviewed Climate Research.
  • Journal Does Not Disclose Happer Is Chairman Of Industry-Funded Institute
  • Happer Compared Mainstream Climate Science To Holocaust “Propaganda.”
  • Schmitt Was A Director At The Industry-Funded Heartland Institute.
  • Schmitt: The “Obvious Path Of The United States” Under “Current Congress And President” Is “National Socialism.”

Only the WSJ could hold these two up as climate experts.

The notion that CO2 has little correlation with temperature is pure anti-science (see “How carbon dioxide controls earth’s temperature and In must-see AGU video, Richard Alley explains “The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History”)

Schmitt and Happer say our current CO2 levels are “low by the standards of geological and plant evolutionary history,” they pine for the days when “Levels were 3,000 ppm, or more,” and note that commercial greenhouse operators boost CO2 levels to “1,000 ppm or more to improve the growth and quality of their plants.”

The recent scientific literature is beyond crystal clear that 1000 ppm — which is where we will end up this century if we listen to disinformers like these two — would result in multiple, simultaneous catastrophes for humanity, including widespread Dust-Bowlification.

Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, explained that we’re headed for 11°F warming, and “Even School Children Know This Will Have Catastrophic Implications for All of Us.”

Yes, even school children know more than Schmitt, Happer and the editors of the Wall Street Journal.

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82 Responses to Not The Onion: Wall Street Journal Hits ‘Rock Bottom’ With Inane Op-Ed Urging ‘More Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’

  1. Superman1 says:

    The mantra on this site is that if only the masses had better information from the media on climate change, if only the various sources of misinformation were eliminated, then they would become more activist about solving the climate change problem. The subjects of the article are two smart people, undoubtedly well-read in climate change. Education about the topic is a necessary, but certainly not sufficient, condition for taking action. There are many other tempering influences that have to be considered, especially lifestyle considerations.

  2. Chris Winter says:

    This editorial is wrong from the git-go. The authors begin it with “Of all of the world’s chemical compounds, none has a worse reputation than carbon dioxide.”

    That has been found not to be the case. My sources reveal that the winner is: Botulinum toxin, a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. With an estimated human median lethal dose of 1.3–2.1 ng/kg intravenously or intramuscularly and 10–13 ng/kg when inhaled, it is the world’s most potent poison and wins the title of chemical compound with the worst reputation hands down.

  3. BillD says:

    I wonder how many of the readers who read the WSJ for business and investment news know that that climate coverage is a crock. Nothing that I have read from Heartland Institute has more than zero credibility.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Phil Plait’s take:

    No Need to Worry About Global Warming, Folks: More Carbon Dioxide Will Be Awesome

  5. Joe Romm wrote:

    “Only the WSJ could hold these two up as climate experts.”

    Joe, how could you get it so wrong? Fox News and a whole bunch of other publications could misrepresent these two clowns as “experts.” (Of course, Fox and the WSJ are both owned by Murcoch, so that has to do with it.)

    As far as the “More CO2 is better,” BS goes, I like to use the salt analogy. Humans need salt to survive. If you don’t get enough salt, you’ll get sick and can die. But too much salt will kill you.

    What you need is the right amount of salt. That proper amount has a range — your taste buds and cravings will tell you as you approach the limits — but it must stay within that range for you to remain healthy. And if it goes way out of the range, you die.

  6. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “The subjects of the article are two smart people, undoubtedly well-read in climate change.”

    The subjects of the article are deliberate deceivers.

    So of course you defend them, and attack the people they deceive.

  7. Matt Owens says:

    I’ve just written an article that deals with this very issue.

    I think I agree with your main points Superman1; and, I’d like to know more about the WSJ audience. From the limited number of “wall street” type people I’ve known fairly well (3 I can think of right now), I think they tend to be more pragmatic and open-minded than most people – and even if they do buy this op-ed baloney now, I think they’d be easily convinced otherwise by an effective bit of reality communication.

    the article I just wrote:

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    I agree with your comment, Secular.

    There should be consequences for lying in a newspaper on key issues of public health.

  9. Joe Romm says:

    There is no evidence whatsoever for you assertion. Plus your creation of strawmen continues to be tedious. It isn’t the masses who are holding up climate action. Quite the reverse. It is the right-wing elite.

  10. Martin Lack says:

    It seems to me that Superman1 is, for reasons that are not entirely clear, attacking the people who are not deceived.

  11. Matt Owens says:

    wait a second, are you saying that you expect 100% of Americans to support climate action before it actually happens?

  12. dick smith says:

    A chemist friend in Citizens Climate Lobby, Rick Knight, shared this with CCL. It seemed worth sharing here.

    Saying CO2 is plant food is like saying oxygen is human food. So if 21 percent oxygen (the concentration on earth today) is good for us, wouldn’t it be great if we could raise it to, say, 33 percent? That would be an increase similar to what you get by raising CO2 from 285 to 450 ppm.

    But living in a 33 percent oxygen atmosphere would dramatically increase the risk of fire all around us. We would not be able to use paper at all because of this risk. Driving would be impossible because your car engine would explode. Trees would spontaneously combust in the hot sun. But none of those would matter for very long, because your body would start to suffer serious damage to the central nervous system, lungs, eyes, blood, kidneys, and gonads.


    Along with all the standard objections to the CO2-is-good trickery, maybe this would be a useful course of messaging, just to drive home the point that just because something is essential to life, that doesn’t mean that more of it is better.

  13. Matt Owens says:

    and I don’t think it’s the masses who are holding up action…did I miss something?

  14. Matt Owens says:

    oh sorry Joe, that was at Superman – nm.

  15. Calamity Jean says:

    That’s true of a lot of things. You can die of dehydration or of “water intoxication”. You can starve to death or die of morbid obesity.

  16. Jack Burton says:

    Murdock bought the WSJ so he would have it as a major mouthpiece to spread lies. Murdock is a proven and long term liar. He is also a proven greed monger and a war monger. When the entire cost of his reign as Media king of the world gets added up, he will be in the ranks of Hitler and Stalin of the modern era.
    No, in the end his propaganda will cost millions of lives.
    Once the Murdock empire bought the WSJ, I ceased to read a word of it, when I had read it for years beforehand.
    That an article as stupid as the one referred to above can even get published in the WSJ in the year 2013, we have proof that certain business interests and radical fundamentalist religious nuts still hold a vast share of the media propaganda apparatus. And do not kid yourselves, the USA media is by and large a giant propaganda hoax. It does not deliver news, it delivers mind control. The media I grew up with as a kid is long since dead, now it is the liars and greed mongers of the Murdock type who push the media agenda. It aims to benefit a tiny, tiny, tiny minority of rich power brokers and militarist mad men.
    History will judge, it will call our generation criminal in it’s greed and stupidity.

  17. Spike says:

    Anyone who thinks about this for a moment will soon realise that CO2 is only part of the equation relating to crop productivity, and may not be the limiting factor as per Liebig’s Law. Much good that CO2 will do if your field is dried up completely, flooded out, leached of all its minerals or your crop damaged by heat.

    A better analogy is a growing child – the kid needs protein, carbohydrate , fats, vitamins and minerals. Just deciding to shovel in more vitamin D won’t necessarily make the child grow better especially if this leads to a poorer intake of other more limiting factors.

  18. Superman1 says:

    My statement is rather clear; education on climate change, by itself, may not be enough to promote climate activism. Like its smoking predecessor, personal habits and addictions and agendas can over-ride education.

  19. Superman1 says:

    “It is the right-wing elite.” Tell us specifically how they prevented ten times or twenty times the attendees at the February climate rally from showing up, where they could have had Civil Rights or Vietnam-level demonstration numbers.

  20. Raul M. says:

    I’m not quite sure and it’s been awhile since English classes. But doesn’t the clause following the comma in the mantra statement indicate that there is a something about the beliefs within the mantra or does the clause indicate the authors opinion that the mantra would hold true if only?

  21. Superman1 says:

    Matt, It’s well-written, but contains a lot with which I don’t agree. From my perspective, the only purpose of the climate polls is to fulfill the personal agendas of their sponsors and the personal agendas of those who cite them. They bear no relation to the lack of action we see in the real world, or the views of the people with whom I come into contact.

  22. Superman1 says:

    The polls require no commitment from the polled. You did mention ‘sacrifice’, and there you should have spent more time. That, to me, is far more of a roadblock to action on climate change than almost any other issue I can envision.

  23. Superman1 says:

    The fossil energy stakeholders are not motivated to change the status quo, nor are the fossil energy workers. The electorate is not willing to relinquish the high energy intensity lifestyle enabled by the availability of ‘cheap’ fossil fuel. The politicians are driven by their wealthy donors (who reflect the fossil energy industry in part) and the electorate, and neither of these constituencies is interested in changing the status quo, as described above.

  24. Bob LaVelle says:

    “The mantra on this site…” I read this site every day, and I’ve never gotten that impression. Why do you so frequently and anonymously represent your subjective experience as consensual reality?

  25. Superman1 says:

    I believe it is the absence of any discernible stakeholder group interested in making the sacrifices necessary to save the biosphere that accounts for the inaction we see. While better education could help gain a few converts, personal agendas and habits will over-ride any desire to make the required sacrifices, as the examples of Happer and Schmitt clearly show.

  26. Brooks Bridges says:

    I have, on rare occasions, been astounded to find myself agreeing with SuperBizzaro1.

    But his specialty is as follows: Constantly restating the blindly obvious – that short sighted and stupid humans are causing climate change. He then, god-like, informs us that all efforts to avoid disaster are futile. No one, no action, no technological advance offering hope can ever get even an “attaboy” from him.

    Today he at least does something new in twisting the meaning of “education” 180 deg to include deliberate misinformation.

    He is obviously not going to change but I can.

    So, I will no longer read any of his comments nor any replies to his comments.

    Shame on me for taking this long to wise up.

  27. Bob LaVelle says:

    The comparison to Viet Nam and the civil rights demonstrations is absolutely ludicrous. We are not exposed to a steady stream of televised climate horror the way we were to televised police dogs, beatings, maimed draftees and National Guard on-campus target practice in those days. In my view, a little more thoughtfulness would make your quick-drawn postings more valuable, SM1, whatever your name is.

  28. Brooks Bridges says:

    Yes! I’m astounded this comparison hasn’t been used repeatedly. How many people kill their houseplants with over-watering?

    I’d also like to offer the speaker/writer a night in a room with 7% CO2.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    There are already numerous psychological studies that show that psychopathy is rampant in ‘business types’, growing ever more prevalent and pronounced the higher you ascend the greasy pole of ‘business success’. And we can see from the unbridled greed of these creatures, the tsunami of fraud and malfeasance that precipitated the GFC, the brutal way in which the business bosses deal with their work-forces and their fulminating arrogance, just what type this is. The Wall Street Journal accurately reflects the mentality of this type in all its moral perfidy, intellectual insufficiency and ruthless misanthropy.

  30. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    How in the name of blazes do you twist that claim out of what he said?

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Oh, I see-you were addressing the tedious Mr Superbore. I get it now.

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Oh dear-the trolls have arrived, en masse. Must have had a drawing of straws at the Competitive Cupidity Collegium or some other swamp. Perhaps the droogs at the WSJ have been ordered to defend its ‘honour’.

  33. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m afraid that, as I have long and boringly insisted, the Right will only grow ever more deranged and vicious as their ‘precious’, the greedy, unjust, sadistic and destructive world system, that rewards the very, very, few at the expense of the vast majority of humanity (and all future generations)crumbles. We are dealing with the very worst specimens of the Right here, and, in my opinion, the most appropriate term for their ‘product’ is ‘spiritual evil’. The intellectual imbecility is, possibly, contrived.

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You are quite correct. While the WSJ is the far Antipodes of Rightwing malevolence, in my opinion at least, it is but the end of a spectrum of Rightwing disinformation that begins with the most supposedly ‘liberal’ rags, even the likes of ‘The Guardian’. The entire print MSM in Australia is firmly denialist, although there are parts of the smaller conglomerate, Fairfax, where the facts make an occasional appearance. This is the central obsession for the Right today-we must never forget that. The ecological crisis can only be ended by ending market capitalism, which means the end of the overwhelming power and dominance of the rich. They, and their MSM propaganda thugs, will fight that to the death.

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    He’s beginning to show his true colours, isn’t he?

  36. Superman1 says:

    Joe and Mulga have their pre-conceived agendas, and the only way to rationalize the inaction of the masses is to ascribe it to the policies of the right-wing elite. The right-wing is certainly A problem, but not THE problem. The masses are not interested in making the sacrifices required to save the biosphere, irrespective of the right-wing’s desires.

  37. BobbyL says:

    Seems to me there is a plethora of reasons for inaction. Actually, there is action, but too little. In the US the right wing probably tops the list. Internationally other important factors come into play, particularly the fact that countries are on different development paths. It’s as if they are existing in different periods of time with some fully developed, some partially developed, and some still waiting. If China agreed to reduce emissions rather than wait for the developed countries to go first things might start rolling. Another factor is the expense. People may want to take action but find it is too expensive. Many cities and towns are eager to do more but may not unless they get a state of federal government grant to pay for it. Then there are technical problems which make action very difficult. For example, limitations in battery technology makes implementing solar and wind to their full potential difficult. The list is long.

  38. Superman1 says:

    If you want some polls that reflect reality, consider these two. 0.01% of the American public attended the February climate rally vs the 33% who watched the Super Bowl. Millions of Americans couldn’t be bothered to vote in the 2010 national elections or State elections, thereby allowing the deniers to take over the House and to gain sufficient power to block any action in the Senate on climate, and allowing the State legislatures to re-district and gerrymander to tighten the hold of their Representatives on the House.

  39. Superman1 says:

    That’s called ‘voting with your feet’, and is far more reliable than some uncommitted responder telling a pollster exactly what he wants to hear.

  40. Tom L says:

    Irrelevant!!!!!!! But seriously, it couldn’t be more obvious.

  41. prokaryotes says:

    Re above discussion.

    Imho, there are different approaches either top down or bottom up. It depends on your viewpoint and your strategy. And this is about critical masses – thresholds which determine behavior change. So you all are probably “right” to some degree.

  42. Tom L says:

    Minimal media coverage = minimal public awareness = minimal collective action. So simple even a super genius should be able to get it.

  43. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I reckon they’ll be crawling around on the bottom for a while yet. Uncle Rupe still looks pretty spry and even if he went on too many 4 mile walks with Wendy, he has plenty of slimy descendants, ME

  44. Superman1’s issue is that he has contempt rather than empathy for the billions of victims of climate change.

    Yes, these billions were born into a world predicated on fossil fuels, and so are in some remote sense complicit in its perpetuation. But even a basic appreciation of psychology would tell you that a child accepts the world he is born into. Leaving that world is supremely alienating; rejecting it is antisocial. The inertia of the status quo is overwhelming–economically, socially, and psychologically. Repudiation of one’s birth context is not a trivial thing. Very few can do it and remain sane.

    It is up to the few who see the entire picture to lead those billions. That is a rare human, indeed. We can name the few in modern history without taking off our shoes.

    Gandhi is probably the most outstanding. Martin Luther King is another. I can think of other charismatic leaders who had he wrong end of the moral stick but who appeared to be righteous to their followers: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot come to mind. So one is justified in being circumspect about leaders with a great message.

    This is not a bottoms-up problem. It is far too abstract for a person who had the misfortune to be born into this age to comprehend. It is most definitely a top-down problem, the same way that monarchy and aristocracy were top-down problems. There was sentiment to overthrow them, but it required a disaffected educated class to provide leadership. The alternative vision had to be immediately compelling.

    The tragedy of climate change is it won’t be bad enough for people to accept the alternate vision until it’s too late. That’s just physics. The latency problem of carbon is a real thing. Today was a beautiful day. Any human walking outdoors in my part of the world would say, in the absence of received knowledge from websites like Climate Progress, what’s wrong? It just can’t be that bad yet.

    Superman1, that’s your challenge: to present that vision and to be the leader that persuades the billions that they should give up the only life they’ve ever known, or that their parents or grandparents ever knew, for something else. I stipulate it must be done. But actually getting it done, especially when you’re up against vested interests who can easily manipulate innate psychology to create uncertainty and the fear of loss, is something else entirely.

  45. Superman1 says:

    Stop trying to invent excuses; there is zero interest among the global electorate for serious action to save the biosphere.

  46. Superman1 says:

    Minimal collective interest around the world=minimal collective action around the world!

  47. Superman1 says:

    A change in the weather, “I stipulate it must be done.” I don’t think it can be done. I sent the Kevin Anderson video and article posted on the ‘resiliency’ thread to perhaps fifty acquaintances a few months ago, along with other articles, and have discussed it further with some of them. They are educated and well-informed, and their attitude tends to be there is little we can do to change the situation, given the overwhelming numbers interested in maintaining the status quo.

  48. Superman1 says:

    That’s why I believe that better media coverage, while certainly desirable, will have minimal impact on behavior, just as the Surgeon General’s Report by itself had negligible impact on smoking behavior (changes resulted from the economic penalties and mandates imposed by the non-smoking majority on the smoking minority). I see no way the problem can be solved voluntarily, and I have seen no proposals here that counter my statement.

  49. Superman1 says:

    A Change in the Weather, “the fear of loss”. A well-founded fear. There will be loss; there will be sacrifice if there is to be any slim chance of avoiding catastrophe. Anderson uses the expression ‘prolonged austerity’; I would use the term ‘prolonged deep depression’, given the numbers he presents. I really believe most people will choose going over the cliff in later years rather than make the ‘draconian sacrifices’ required today.

  50. Superman1 says:

    Oh, please! 99% of the posts that address the media on this site claim media bias is one of the main roadblocks to climate action. Any excuse rather than put the blame where it belongs.

  51. Superman1 says:

    Boringly and repetitively, I might add. The fact that the Right has all these negative characteristics does not excuse the lack of action by the electorate due to their desire to maintain their self-indulgent high-energy lifestyle enabled by the availability of cheap fossil fuels.

  52. Superman1 says:

    More excuses. There is negligible public interest in addressing climate change for reasons I have mentioned numerous times, whereas there was substantial intrinsic public interest in participating in the aforementioned demonstrations. A problem cannot be solved until it is defined properly; you have not done so.

  53. Superman1 says:

    “no action, no technological advance offering hope”. Completely misleading! I have seen no proposals of any type here that demonstrate they would prevent our going over the climate cliff. When one is offered, then I will offer my compliments.

  54. Superman1 says:

    Your comments about the media are correct. But, the attitudes of Happer and Schmitt show that more than education and information is required to elicit the proper action. Personal agendas and habits and addictions can predominate in determining actions, and education becomes a tool to help rationalize the behaviors. This site is not immune from such practices!

  55. BBHY says:

    We would have already had a climate bill back in 2009 if the Dems hadn’t allowed the filibuster to kill it.

    We need to put serious pressure on Obama to do as much as possible between now and 2017. After that my prediction is that President Christie will be the one to finally take a lead on this issue.

    No, I am not a Christie fan, but I do firmly believe that the next president will be an R type. The rest is just wishful thinking, although stranger things have happened.

  56. Superman1 says:

    “We would have already had a climate bill back in 2009 if”. There are many ‘ifs’ here. If this 70% that the climate polls say support action really exists, and if they had shown up on election day to put their climate-friendly candidates into office, then we wouldn’t have to worry about filibusters and all these other legal gimmicks designed to prevent action. The reality is, the mass of the voters could care less about climate, and the politicians’ games and inaction reflect this.

  57. BobbyL says:

    Really? They solved the ozone hole problem which seriously threatened the biosphere. And even with the right wingers in this country denying there was an ozone hole or claiming it was caused by volcanoes. It’s deja vu. What’s the difference? That problem was easy to solve this is hard. Very hard. As I noted, there are a many reasons why it is hard. It’s much easier to play the blame game to advance a political agenda then to solve it. That is the main lesson of the last 25 years.

  58. Superman1 says:

    What was the sacrifice required; switching refrigerants? For climate change, major sacrifices are required for long periods of time, and there has been no demonstrated willingness to make even small sacrifices for short time periods.

  59. Superman1 says:

    “And even with the right wingers in this country denying there was an ozone hole or claiming it was caused by volcanoes.” What?? You mean even with right-wing obstruction the electorate was able to get something done? Don’t let Mulga know; the stress will be overwhelming.

  60. I have read that some fundamentalists are getting science degrees, not because they love to learn, but in order to be able to propagate their anti-scientific notions. Their degrees allow them to publish in scientific journals, and to gain credibility with the public.

  61. In my experience, Superman1 is right. Many people who consider themselves environmentalists are utterly unwilling to inconvenience themselves much if at all, even to the extent of turning out the lights in rooms they are not using.

  62. BobbyL says:

    Besides solving the ozone problem we solved the acid rain problem caused by the coal-fired plants owned and operated by Big Coal. Clearly despite the efforts of top corporate people and right wingers it has been possible to solve two big environmental problems during the past few decades. And it didn’t take millions of people taking to the streets to do it. To me this is proof that top government officials in the US and the world can act to deal with major environmental problems without needing massive rallies, just good old fashioned environmental lobbying. The problem with global warming of course is there is no simple solution such as replacing Freon with chemicals that don’t break down ozone or instituting a cap and trade program that only covers coal-burning plants. However, these solutions to major environmental problems do suggest that the so-called ruling elite is not quite as powerful as some people think with regard to controlling politicians and the media. It should give us more hope.

  63. Tom L says:

    Great comments Change. I fully agree.

  64. kermit says:

    And of course, you put the blame on those who are misinformed. Yes, the disinterest and frequent open hostility of the common man to science and truly important issues frustrates me, but I cannot hold someone crippled by rigidity and fear and exhaustion to be more blameworthy than the people spending their beloved money to keep the general population in ignorance.

    You frequently bring up the example of smoking, and say that the Surgeon General’s report wasn’t sufficient by itself. True enough, but it was necessary, and it was part of the social and media package that eventually changed society’s attitudes toward tobacco smoking. Too bad we don’t have 30 years to bring them around on climate change.

  65. BobbyL says:

    Regardless of what degree a person has the science has to be good to get through the tough peer-review process and get published in a journal that is highly regarded. Although peer review is not perfect. In his book on the hockey stick graph climate scientist Michael Mann points to one or two papers with poor science that unfortunately somehow did get through the peer-review process and became ammunition for the deniers.

  66. Joan Savage says:

    The WSJ probably doesn’t feel an obligation to fact check something they publish as “Opinion.”

    I am nonetheless very curious about the source(s) of Schmitt and Happer’s claim, “Crop yields in recent dry years were less affected by drought than crops of the dust-bowl droughts of the 1930s, when there was less carbon dioxide.”

    What is their evidence? Controlled micro-climate tests for effects of increased CO2 didn’t replicate the poor Dust Bowl farming practices as a baseline, at least not any I recall. Here’s an example of an increased CO2 study: They increased CO2 to 500 to 10,000 ppm at 101 kPa atmospheric pressure and didn’t get yield improvement in the food parts of either soybeans or potatoes.

    Further, would Schmitt and Happer be as jolly about their yield per acre claim if they realized yield per acre is not the same measure as total food production?

    The forecast for the 2012-13 rice crop is interesting in this way. The yield per acre is expected to set a new high, but the forecast total production in the US is not exceptional, because in some regions farmers won’t be planting as much acreage due to drought.

    “At 134,000 acres, harvested area in Texas is 26 percent below a year earlier. The State has suffered from severe drought and has instituted water restrictions this year.”

  67. Joan Savage says:

    Although my comment was very serious, I have to admit that when the WSJ publishes something labeled “Opinion,” it would be a whole lot easier in the future to just read that as “Onion” leaving out the “pi.”

  68. Gestur says:

    Clark, once again with respect (see further down), I think you would engage more people more seriously with the substance of your arguments if you set the flame-thrower down and couched your opinions as simply that. As it happens, I tend to think your opinions are largely correct, which I think could be inferred from a reading of my fairly long comment on Joe’s Sunday blog post (my comment addressed to Lou Grinzo) and your several response-within-responses to my comment. But as I wrote there in more words and couched in terms of the difficulty of truly identifying causality here in climate change inaction, I think we’re all more or less waving our hands in the air here, saying it’s this factor or that as concerns what’s behind climate change inaction. We don’t know and it will probably stay that way since this is one very difficult knot of causality to try to unravel. Which isn’t to say that these discussions we have at Joe’s blog are a waste of time. Very far from it: we should be hashing it out with one another arguing our own pet hypotheses for why we don’t see more action concerning CC. That’s pretty much the only way we’re going to make any headway, I think. Especially when you consider the likely (but unknown) reality that this CC inaction in the US is massively multi-factorial. If so, many approaches are likely to have some effect, but we still need to sharpen our views of what might be the most important factors.

    Now go back and read my first sentence again, Clark, and stay cool.

  69. Joan Savage says:


  70. Superman1 says:

    “And of course, you put the blame on those who are misinformed.” There’s plenty of blame to go around: the energy companies, the media, the politicians, etc. But, we can’t absolve the public. I give the smoking example to show that even if the public has the correct information, there’s no guarantee their behavior will change. I believe this is the case with respect to climate change, based on people whom I know are well-informed and it does not impact their behavior one whit!

  71. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Where would our lives be without sweet tricky little pi? Perhaps instead we could leave the Onion out of the pies, or even out of the opinions, ME

  72. Joan Savage says:

    Thanks for that!

  73. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’d say that so many Americans watching the Superbowl is ‘voting with their bums’, not their feet (aside from ‘rest stops’).

  74. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Et in Arcadia- the Ego’.

  75. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, Super, but aren’t you the last person to point out that particular flaw in others?

  76. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Exactly! It should, and must, be made a grave crime, with universal jurisdiction, retrospective application and condign punishment for those found guilty.

  77. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes indeed. I’m am firmly of the opinion that our brief posterity will judge Murdoch one of the most evil men to have ever lived.

  78. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I prefer ‘mucilaginous’ to slimy. It flows off the tongue, trippingly.

  79. Superman1 says:

    The difference between your repetition and my repetition is that I repeat the Truth and you repeat political slogans!

  80. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Any time Joan, You’re the real deal, rounded human being, ME

  81. BBHY says:

    The climate bill was passed in the House in 2009. It went to the Senate, where it was filibustered.

    The Senate is disfunctional and has been for many years. The US Constitution clearly defines the instances that require a supermajority; treaty ratification, impeachment, amendments to the constitution, etc. Votes on climate bills do not require a supermajority, but the weak Dems allowed the T-pubs to impose that requirement anyway.

    That is the only one, single IF that prevented this climate bill from being passed into law. In this case, there are not a lot of IFs, only one.

  82. BBHY says:

    Crop yields are higher now for a variety of reasons, genetically modified crops, better irrigation, better weeds and pest controls, etc. This is true in both drought and non- drought years. Even if higher CO2 levels play some small part that doesn’t mitigate the negative effects of higher atmospheric levels of CO2.