GOP-led House rejects science, 240-184

Science is the foundation of progress.

Rejecting science means in essence rejecting hope for Americans and indeed for all humankind:  We live in complex times fraught with dangers, many of which are human-made and can be solved only by the application of science backed by resources that, sometimes, only government can mobilize.   That is certainly the case with human-caused climate change.

Sadly, tragically even, the US House of Representatives today voted down 240-184 an amendment from Henry Waxman (D-CA) that stated:

Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.

The Hill put it this way: “The House rejected a Democratic amendment Wednesday that would have put the chamber on record backing the widely held scientific view that global warming is occurring and humans are a major cause.”

We can make a stronger statement.  Last year, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the equivalent of the Supreme Court of science — a body that is ultra-conservative from a scientific perspective — reviewed the scientific literature in a major report and concluded:

A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems”¦.

Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.

With this vote, the GOP is attempting to turn back the hands of time to before the Enlightenment, returning us to a new Dark Ages every bit as perilous as the original.  With a deafening silence from the White House, the question remains, who will defend science?  Who will give humanity a fighting chance against the forces of ignorance, who are accelerating us toward ruin:

42 Responses to GOP-led House rejects science, 240-184

  1. Ben Lieberman says:

    And almost as disgraceful the fact that few seem to care and that many find it socially acceptable to vote for representatives bent on environmental destruction.

  2. Jay Alt says:

    Waxman is so good at making his points, whether on the majority or minority side of the aisle.
    I love that guy. We need to clone about 20 of him.

  3. Rob Jones says:

    “Who will defend science? Who will give humanity a fighting chance against the forces of ignorance”

    I can not answer that but I can tell who will not RUPERT MURDOCH and his evil press empire will certainly not.

  4. Steve O says:

    @ Rob Jones
    But NewsCorp was carbon neutral for 2010. Strange, but true.

  5. ToddInNorway says:

    @Steve O and Rob Jones – I believe that if Rupert Murdoch senses a groundswell of overwhelming public support to do something about AGW, then he will lead the “me too” charge-because it will be a new business opportunity that makes his old stance unviable. This is what we should work to achieve. Yes, I understand, that groundswell is difficult to mobilize when MSM is against you, but it can and must happen.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    I wonder if anyone has an idea of how many of the 240 Representatives actually believed in their “no” votes. I would guess that at least a third of them have a good notion of climate reality, and that Waxman’s well worded resolution expressed it rather cautiously.

    Someone who votes his conscience- in this case, for a simple affirmation of scientific truth- is viewed as a sucker in Congress these days. They are expected to vote per their instructions from the oil companies and banks, and to feel no shame for doing so.

    The odd thing is that in 2011 the lifestyle of a Congressman who only lives within his salary is more than enough to guarantee a materially comfortable existence. They have not sold their souls for nice cars or good steaks, which they already have, but for oversized and wasteful consumer goods. The American leadership of Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln is long gone, replaced by sleazy hookers in tailored suits.

  7. Todd Tanner says:

    We will.

  8. Indian Unbound says:

    I get so angry when I see the obstructionism in America about climate change resolutions. And even more so when I see the indefensible argument that the rise of emerging economies will in effect bring about destruction, not the collosal waste already being perpetrated.
    I am a recent immigrant to USA living in a fairly medium sized midwestern city. The colossal waste of energy that I see everyday has, frankly, shocked me so much that it does not leave any room for revulsion: store windows that are switched on all day, every day, through the year, massive show lighting illuminating (purely for effect, not for visibility, that is already taken care of) a pedestrian bridge from 6 PM to 2:30 at night everyday, a medical centre that has every light in a public area (like corridors, waiting rooms) switched on, all the time, through the year, cars that are left running in the parking lot so that the shopper may come back to a cooled/heated vehicle, indoor climate control designed to allow t-shirts in the winter, and sweaters in the summer, ice makers in every fridge because people are too lazy to use ice trays… the list is endless.
    What gives a country the right to behave so callously? Why must the world suffer so that a rogue nation has enough energy to power its twinkle lights, even as millions freeze in faraway India or Africa or China? Why is there no insight into the tremendous waste of energy and resources that occurs in this country, and which is taken as a sort of birthright entitlement by the citizens of this “shining city on the hill”?
    Maybe some of the reviewers here will have answers. But I must say that it makes poorer persons like me, who lived in rural India with 18 hour-a-day power cuts through summer (yes, it’s 18 in summer, winters are a more manageable 6) deeply resentful of this nation, and hopeful that it will fail soon, bringing its destructive hubris to an end.

  9. 350 Now says:

    Although NOT a partisan issue, it is worth noting the names of Democrats that voted against the EPA:

    Democratic Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.) Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)…
    “These Democrats are three of the 12 who voted in support of the rule for the bill, H.R. 910. The others were Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Mark Critz (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (NC), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Heath Shuler (NC).”

    Shame, shame, shame DINOs, shame upon your face. May your grandchildren spit upon your name.

  10. 350 Now says:

    For the record… Roll call votes – House Vote On Passage: H. Res. 203: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 910) to amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit to Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change, and for other purposes.

  11. Len Conly says:

    This vote gives new meaning to the term “Faustian bargain.” Not only has this Congress sold its own soul to the devil, but it has consigned the rest of us to hell as well. They may eventually be charged with “omnicide.”

  12. jyyh says:

    As going through voting lists can be boring to some, here’s the list of those voting against their respective party majority, and those not voting.

    I guess she is a special case, appearing first in the list.
    Not Voting AZ-8 Giffords, Gabrielle [D]

    Aye AR-4 Ross, Mike [D]
    Not Voting CA-28 Berman, Howard [D]
    Not Voting CA-43 Baca, Joe [D]
    Not Voting CA-47 Sanchez, Loretta [D]
    Not Voting CT-5 Murphy, Christopher [D]
    Not Voting FL-10 Young, C. W. [R]
    Aye GA-2 Bishop, Sanford [D]
    Aye IN-2 Donnelly, Joe [D]
    Not Voting MA-1 Olver, John [D]
    Aye MN-7 Peterson, Collin [D]
    New Jersey
    Not Voting NJ-1 Andrews, Robert [D]
    Not Voting NJ-11 Frelinghuysen, Rodney [R]
    New York
    Not Voting NY-6 Meeks, Gregory [D]
    North Carolina
    Aye NC-8 Kissell, Larry [D]
    Aye NC-11 Shuler, Heath [D]
    Aye OK-2 Boren, Dan [D]
    Aye PA-4 Altmire, Jason [D]
    Aye PA-12 Critz, Mark [D]
    Aye PA-17 Holden, Tim [D]
    Aye UT-2 Matheson, Jim [D]
    West Virginia
    Aye WV-3 Rahall, Nick [D]

    Glad to be of service.

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    Greatest Crimes.

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    No-frills fight against Big Tobacco: Cigarette packets to be ugly olive green

  15. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Hello Joe

    Go get and study recent atlas of the earth. You will quickly learn that there are few humans on the earth and they occupy a tiny fraction of it.

    The surface area of Canada is ca 6 tillion acres but this does not include the areas of bodies of water suchas Hudson Bay or the Arctic ocean within Canada territorial limits.

    Canada has a population of ca 33 million people.

    Explain to me how activities of Canadians are going to affect the climate of this enormous area?

    Ditto all of the above for Siberia and Oz down under.

    The folks in the Congress can read and understand the maps in an atlas. They aren’t stupid and ignorant.

    You have nice day and a Scotch and soda which contains the pollutant carbon dioxide.

    [JR: Just so folks can see what we’re up against. I wonder how humans almost destroyed the ozone layer. Guess that was a hoax, too.]

  16. Mark says:

    Joe, you’re a marvel! How do you keep your chin up? Whatever your secret, its inspiration in the face of idiocy. Thanks and keep it coming.

  17. Mark says:

    Seems like this vote could be a major component in an effective recall/lashback campaign in key districts for 2012. I want to see a TV spot with 1000 members of the Academy lined up on the steps of the capitol building reading Joe’s excerpts above, flashing to degreed researchers say “no doubt” (next fact) “settle” (next face) “emergency”

    flashing to the idiot roll call that said they know better.

  18. Joan Savage says:

    They showed their allegiance to their campaign donors.

    I’d rather not impute sophisticated motives like, “..the GOP is attempting to turn back the hands of time to before the Enlightenment.” Members of Congress seldom, if ever, think along those lines. You give them too much credit for cultural focus.

    However, it is pre-Enlightenment, pre-Age of Reason, to categorically exclude regulation of any substances that have a single trait in common. What next, categorical exclusion from regulation of all substances that might cause floods?

    Like others I’m very grateful for Henry Waxman’s contributions in Congress, and Roe Romm’s indefatigable commentary about it.

  19. Harold @#15 may be expressing a widely held misconception that humans can’t possibly be damaging the earth simply because our perception that nature can overcome whatever we do to it simply because well the world is so big and we are so small.

    I don’t think that science & facts will change that misconception. Human beings are very good at self-deception particularly when we don’t want to face uncomfortable truths. We don’t want to face Truths that if we ever do accept them would mean that we have to change how we live.

    Perhaps, the only hope of getting humanity to face these truths is through the power of images & stories. Images that touch us at a deep level and stories that pierce our defenses.

    We need to find these images & stories and share them so widely & so frequently that the Uncomfortable Truth that we are destroying God’s Good Creation can no longer be avoided. Perhaps then, we might come closer to the “Shining City on the Hill” which Indian Unbound @8 so rightly critiques our shameful actions.

  20. darth says:

    Harold @15:

    Thanks for finding the answer to this complex question in an atlas! I’m so relieved that you are right and thousands of scientists who make studying climate their life’s work are wrong. What a relief – I’m gonna go burn some coal to celebrate!

    Or, maybe you might want to try reading something other than an atlas, try this to start:

  21. 350 Now says:

    Although Transocean execs have since given their bonuses to the families of the 11 (!) victims of the Deepwater Horizon, it takes the jester of Jon Stewart to point out the mental acuity of these crooks – comparing the Gulf oil disaster to “Bob cutting his hand on a bolt” – as statistically the same as both are one incident each.—transocean-bonuses

    Also Rachel Maddow’s reporting on this is sterling.

    As Lily Tomlin once said, ‘ no matter how cynical you get, you can’t keep up.’

  22. Dennis says:

    Harold @15:

    The explanation starts with you reading about how: 1) CO2 is a potent greenhouse gas, and 2) that the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, while only a very small part of the atmosphere, are the difference between the Earth being an inhabiatble planet and a frozen wasteland.

    Once you’ve read and understood those facts, come back here with your rephrased question. If, by chance, you come across people who tell you that the above statements are not true and you choose to believe them, be sure to provide their names and (very important) the scientific research they have conducted which proves their assertions. You’ll find that the latter is nothing more that their personal opinions with no basis in reality, just the 240 opinions of the members of Congress who voted down the Waxman amendment.

  23. Anne says:

    A friend of mine once decided to repeal the law of gravity. He jumped off a formidable cliff, depending on his new world view to carry him through the air indefinitely, planning to go on a long flight before gliding home for dinner. And then, splat, my friend was no more.

    While Congress is in the business of repealing laws of science, let’s ban the second law of thermodynamics and make a perpetual motion machine….. why not? Let’s just vote down everything that’s inconvenient. Why stop at global warming?

  24. Joan Savage says:

    Sorry Joe, not Roe!! My trifocals…

  25. Wit's End says:

    Anne, that’s brilliant! Let’s vote drought away too, and vote loaves of bread onto the grocery store shelves!

    “In most years, the dark clouds over western Oklahoma in the spring would be bringing rain. This year, they’re more likely to be smoke from wildfires that have burned thousands of acres in the past month as the state and its farmers struggle with a severe drought.

    Oklahoma was drier in the four months following Thanksgiving than it has been in any similar period since 1921. That’s saying a lot in the state known for the 1930s Dust Bowl, when drought and high winds generated severe dust storms that stripped the land of its topsoil.

    Neighboring states are in similar shape as the drought stretches from the Louisiana Gulf coast to Colorado, and conditions are getting worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The area in Texas covered by an extreme drought has tripled in the past month to 40 percent, and in Oklahoma it nearly doubled in one week to 16 percent, according to the monitor’s March 29 update.

    An extreme drought is declared when there’s major damage to crops or pasture and widespread water shortages or restrictions….”

  26. Roger Blanchard says:

    Indian Unbound #8,

    Well said. It irritates me as well that Americans waste energy as they do. There is a strong belief in the U.S. that resources are infinite. If resources are indeed infinite, you don’t have to worry about wasting them.

    Among the “drill baby drill” crowd, there is the belief that if only every acre of the U.S. were opened to oil development, we would be energy independent. If only the environmental wackoos and the government would get out of the way, everything would be wonderful. It sounds good to many people even though it’s quite ridiculous.

    When Europeans first came over to North America, it appeared to them that resources here were infinite. That belief has carried on to this day for many Americans.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  27. Wit's End says:

    A certain element among our politicians would love to see the government shut down:

    “…during the last shutdown, climate research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was halted, and NOAA had to shut down its 12 national marine sanctuaries.

    As for the EPA, most of its 18,000 employees were prohibited from entering the agency’s premises, and The New York Times reports that headquarters were like a ghost town.”

  28. Mark says:

    The GOP has handed us a tool!

    The Enlightenment still burns brightly, I believe, among voters who engage in off-season city elections. Maybe we should draft a community resolution and mount a recruiting campaign for locals to push their elected councils and boards to pass it. Here’s a first crack at drafting.

    The City (or whatever) of _________, by and through its democratically elected (board, council, whatever), hereby:

    Acknowledges the US Academy of Science as the highest arbiter of the current state of scientific knowledge in the United State of America;

    Declares that our community’s longterm security, stability, and economic prosperity is threatened when elected officials legislate rejections of the Academy’s statements of scientific fact; and

    Calls upon the entire US Congress to continue to embrace the tradition of science that has made the United States a leader on the world stage.


    I dare any council member to vote “no”. On the local stage, in small towns across America, this is one way to engage my own parents, and its people like them that elect most town and city boards.

  29. Ed Hummel says:

    Harold Pierce Jr. #15, you obviously don’t know anything about population biology or atmospheric physics, though you do claim to know something about geography, no matter how superficially. You seem to forget that Canada is fully populated by all the different species which live in all its various environments and which share the country with the “few” humans who happen to gravitate mostly toward the US border. You also seem not to know that, being a relatively large animal, humans necessarily must use a relatively large amount of their environment to live, just as other large animals such as bears, cattle, etc. do. It’s a simple matter of biology; the larger the animal, the more environmental impact it has. Ordinarily, an animal is restricted to its local environment for all the things it needs to survive. There are exceptions such as migratory birds, whales, fish, some species of hoofed grazers, butterflies, locusts, and other migratory insects, and probably others which I can’t think of at the moment. And then there are humans who can also become migratory, but who have for the last ten thousand years tended to become sedentary in fixed settlements which has tended to absorb resources from farther and farther away as they have become more clever at manipulating environments and energy sources. We have come to call this aspect of human existence civilization and it has depended on a relatively stable climate and sea levels to allow the agriculture and global trade which are necessary for civilization as we have come to know it to exist.

    You say there are “only” 33 million citizens living in Canada, but you fail to mention that they are only able to live there because of what civilization has allowed to happen. There is no way that 33 million humans could have lived in Canada as traditional hunter/gathers living off the land the way indigenous people had for thousands of years before the European invasion of 500 years ago began. The only way that 33 million people can live in Canada today is by importing just about everything they need from places far away from where they live. Multiply that number by ten and you have the situation in the United States which actually has a slightly smaller size than Canada. Multiply that number by about 14 and you’ll have the situation in Europe; by about 6 and you’ll have the situation in Brazil; by about 50 and you’ll have the situation in China. These are all countries or regions that have similar areas. If one were to look at India, one would have to multiply by 100 since India is less than half as large as Canada with a population approaching China’s. Granted, the topography, climate, and land forms of all these regions are different, but that just means that they have varying amounts of trade that they have to manage with other “emptier” parts of the globe in order to acquire the things they need to survive.

    And then there is the matter of acquiring things in excess of what is needed to survive. We all know that the US, Canada, and Europe have for the last 200 years acquired way more than what is needed to survive and that Brazil, China, and India are rapidly trying to catch up. So this means that vast regions of the “empty” parts of the globe are being exploited for “resources” in order to keep such civilizations running at levels their inhabitants have come to expect as “normal”. So to say that humans occupy a tiny part of Earth’s surface is meaningless. In reality, humans occupy the entire surface of this planet, including the oceans, even though they only sleep in relatively small regions. Human activity is global and relentless and anyone who doesn’t understand this fact is ignorant and living in a fantasy land.

    You obviously also don’t have a clue about how the climate system operates since you seem to spout the typical denier troll “arguments” and false questions. Citizens of Canada, most of whom live along the US border, do not just affect their backyard climates, but the whole world’s climate along with the other 7 billion of us to varying degrees. Any school child knows that the air moves and that air molecules that are in Toronto today could be in London next week and in Beijing the week after that. Anyone who goes on to study weather and climate should also learn the major circulation systems that cycle air in the atmosphere, water in the oceans, and all the chemical elements and compounds that cycle through all Earth’s systems and the physical bases for each. They should also learn how all these systems interact and what all the latest research has revealed about how these system relate to our global climate. If they continue on in meteorology, climatology, glaciology, oceanography, geology, etc. they will become part of the research effort and possibly add to the continually increasing understanding of how Earth’s systems work, how they worked in the past, and how they might possibly work in the future.

    But one needn’t become a climatologist or related expert in order to understand the basics of how Earth works according to our latest collective knowledge; one only needs to read the appropriate literature which is out there for all to see. I would assume that anyone living in a civilized country with even a rudimentary educational system can read enough to access this information, or just listen to someone who has if one is too lazy.

    As far as your quip to Joe about CO2 being a pollutant, why didn’t you include water or oxygen. After all they’re both killers; one can drown in too much water or become incinerated in the presence of too much oxygen. Carbon dioxide is a natural substance in our atmosphere not to mention the oceans and lithosphere and it is constantly being cycled through all these systems by well understood mechanisms. It is also well understood how CO2 has properties that make it the ultimate regulator of Earth’s climate system, the global thermostat as it were. We also know by very careful measurements that its concentration is continuing to rise at rates far beyond any known natural mechanism reaching levels not seen for millions of years when Earth was far warmer than it is now. We also know by means of very careful measurements that the majority of the increase is from human fossil fuel use. We know absolutely that the transition to a warmer atmosphere and oceans will lead to major disruptions in weather patterns (basic atmospheric physics) and oceanic circulations (basic oceanic physics) which will then lead to potentially catastrophic climate anomalies world wide, which would then be detrimental to all living things, including humans and especially human civilization. Therefore, we can safely say with no equivocation that the excess, human-produced CO2 in the atmosphere is a pollutant worthy of mitigating action. I just thought you’d like to know these little tidbits of information while you sip your martini and ridicule some serious people who are trying to head off a major disaster for all of us, especially the younger ones among us. In the words of one of your heroes, James Inhofe, “Get a life!”

  30. Jim Eager says:

    I suggest you don’t bother wasting time responding to Harold Pierce Jr. @15 as he is a well-known serial denier of physical reality and obstructionist who makes a hobby of infesting climate change discussion boards.

  31. MartinJB says:

    Don’t bother with Harold Pierce Jr.. He is a long-time and utterly incorrigible troll. He switches from red herring to red herring faster than a color-blind gull with ADD. I don’t know if his little tidbits come from his own fevered imagination (does anyone else remember him “bringing the Harold heat”?) or from the usual denialist feeding grounds, but there is absolutely no point in responding to his posts. Remember, don’t feed the trolls!

  32. RobertH says:

    By act of Congress 2+2=5. Next we’ll be voting on reinstating the Ptolemaic model of the Universe and returning pi to its true biblical value of 3. Remember, we live in a free country and if we don’t like science we can always vote to repeal, defund, and deny.

  33. Mark says:

    “red herring to red herring faster than a color-blind gull with ADD”

    >>still laughing<<

  34. Snapple says:

    Today on TV Harry Reid and the news said the budget is held up because of the clean air laws vs abortion.

    I told you a few days ago that this is what they do to look like they care about our health, but nobody even responded. Well, now here it is: EPA vs Abortion.

    Cuccinelli tries to regulate abortion clinics out of existance to look “pro-life.” He claims that many abortion clinics aren’t safe and should be closed.

    I think the clinics are probably safe for the women; certainly they are safer than an illegal abortion, which is what happens when abortion is not available.

    Planned Parenthood is not safe for the unborn, and at Planned Parenthood I had the experience that they tried to “counsel” me and make me feel like I might not be able to manage another child when I only went for a pregnancy test, not an abortion. In order to get the test, I had to listen to this witch ask me if I could afford another child, etc. The young nurses, however, said I made them happy because I was happy I was pregnant.

    I don’t like Planned Parenthood because my personal experience is that they make their money by promoting abortion, not choice; still, the government funding to them does not go to abortion.

    I wonder, however, if they pressure other women or if my experience was just an isolated incident. I know that a private doctor would never try to make a patient feel insecure about a pregancy.

    You see how the Republicans will pose as people who “choose life” while consigning people to this slow-motion Holocaust of global warming.

    If they really cared about lives, Republicans would support the EPA.

    I think there are many people who will believe that the Republicans are for life and that liberals are people who support the EPA and encourage abortion.

  35. Jim Groom says:

    It is difficult to say much in the way of a positive comment regarding the make up of our Congress. If fact, for me it is impossible. I can sum up my view as follows. In only four years we’ve gone from the childrens congress to a congress of children.

    With any luck the long slumbering public will begin to wake up and recognize what is being done to them. I can hope can’t I?

  36. kermit says:

    While Harold @15 may be a troll, and hence likely has a simple cluster of pathological motives for his behavior, he still represents a common type of human. My wife and I call these folks “cat brains”. We noticed people driving on the freeway who were not particularly aggressive but who were tailgating, holding babies in their laps, and otherwise showing no concept of reaction time and braking distance appropriate to their speed. Cats are terrific athletes – we’ve all seen them catch birds on the wing – but will often get run over by cars by running in front of them. They did not evolve brains that could handle the concept of two-ton predators that could run at 40 mph. And humans do not have an instinctive grasp of the distance traveled at 60 mph in the typical reaction window, nor the braking distance required. We “feel” safe holding our babies on our laps (unless we have learned to override our instincts with evidence, math, etc). These folks are cat brains.

    If you combine cat brains with paleolithic tribal identity issues, in which your tribe is identified by the proper beliefs (conclusions, rather than epistemology), then you have people who cannot be reasoned with. They did not arrive at their current beliefs by reasoning (even poorly), but by naive perceptions filtered through their tribal metaphysics – and Fox News.

    Unfortunately, a high percentage of these denialists in the USA are also Christian Fundamentalists, with a ready explanation for any global disaster. When they accept that everything is going bad, these people may actually become maniacally insistent that Jesus is going to carry them up to Heaven any… minute… now…

    And if they don’t like what they see, they will come up with a simplistic explanation, based on an internal map in which global events are a *moral consequence. E.g., Planned Parenthood is responsible for the drought and flood that wiped out the crops.

  37. Crank says:

    [rolls eyes @ Harold # 15]

    Unfortunately this is a very commonly held belief amongst denialists; a simple argument from incredulity which will, unopposed, naturally overcome any complicated pointy-headed stuff, like “math” and “science”.

    Here’s a simple way to break it down. I’ve found this to be persuasive with those who are not too far gone (but I somehow suspect Harold is not in that category). This stuff is important; countering nonsense requires short, well directed point answers based on easily verifiable facts. Too much information tends to obscure the essential truth.

    Two easily verifiable facts:

    1. We know to a very accurate degree how much excess carbon is dumped into the atmosphere by humans burning fossil fuels. We know this because coal, oil and gas are traded commodities and the data for global activity in this area is widely available and well known. Currently, almost 9 gigatonnes of carbon are emitted into the atmosphere every year from the burning of fossil fuels. This does not include other causes of excess carbon emission such as land use changes. That’s just the fossil fuel contribution.

    2. We know what the atmospheric composition is to an accurate degree just by measuring it. Likewise we know the total mass of the atmosphere from measurements to an accurate degree. Based on this, we know that there are about 750 gigatonnes of carbon in the atmosphere.

    Based on these two facts, the notion that humans couldn’t possibly affect the composition of the atmosphere is trivially disproved: at current rates, we emit well over 10% of all the carbon in the atmosphere every decade.

    There’s much more to discuss in determining the magnitude of the change in the atmosphere (like not all of it stays there), but for purposes of confronting the argument that puny humans can’t possibly affect the mighty atmosphere this additional information isn’t necessary, and only obscures the argument. Fact 1 and fact 2 above are enough.

    I would like to humbly suggest to anybody confronted with an incredulity argument like Harold’s counter it with just these two points. It keeps the argument focused and the facts are quite hard to ignore. The only thing worth adding is the difference between gigatonnes of carbon and gigatonnes of CO2; this causes confusion for some people.

  38. peterh says:

    “Science is the foundation of progress.”

    Umm, SKEPTICISM is the foundation of progress.

    Real science is a product of SKEPTICISM.

    We ought to inquire rather than believe.

    [JR: No. Skepticism is central to science. But one can certainly have skepticism without science. So, no, skepticism isn’t the foundation of progress (and fake skepticism, which is to say, anti-science disinformation masquerading as skepticism, is the enemy of science. Try again.]

  39. I’m proud to have Henry Waxman as my Congressman!

  40. Wit's End says:

    I know you aren’t supposed to feed the trolls but I, for one, quite enjoyed Ed Hummel’s feast!

  41. Steve says:

    Harold #15- Think Globally and act Locally.

    Canada’s contribution is growing and is set to explode if XL goes through.

    We get it. Neither Alberta nor Harper gives a shit because they deny the science and one day will be held accountable by humanity.

  42. Ed Hummel says:

    Kermit #36, I like your term “cat brain”; that sums it up perfectly!! And Wit’s End #40, thanks for the kind words. I know that explaining stuff doesn’t do any good for people like Harold, especially based on my face to face encounters with such people. But I found it an emotional release to just write it all down and read it back to myself to prove to myself that I’m not crazy. That you also found it useful to read is just a bonus. I also find your comments here very useful and important, and you do an excellent job of keeping the issue of environmental pollution from industrial effluents and by products, particularly ground level ozone, in our collective consciousness. Thanks again.