Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Muller v MacCracken, Climate Rumble

Diane Rehm had a great show this morning (link here, transcript here).  Two of her guests were renowned scientists.  Professor Richard Muller - former Climate Change skeptic, converted to a Human Caused Climate Change schooler after his Koch brothers study could not prove conclusively that Human Caused Climate Change was a Hoax (professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines."), and retired scientist Mr Michael MacCracken, chief scientist at Climate Institute and lead editor for the book “Sudden and Disruptive Climate Change: Exploring the Real Risks and How We Can Avoid Them.”  I've heard both of these scientists speak before on television and radio.   They're both very smart guys, and they each stuck to their guns.

They debated how fast the climate has been and will continue to change.  They sparred with scientific facts and their interpretations like:
Muller "Leaking natural gas is terrible 'cause it's 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide."
MacCracken:  "Richard's number, when he says it's only 23 times as much as CO2, is based on its warming influence over 100 years. If you think about its warming influence over 20 years -- its lifetime in the atmosphere is 10 to 20 years, assuming -- it's 75 times as important as CO2."
[Both are correct... it's important on what Time Scale one considers it]
...and causes of intense hurricanes, melting of ice caps, el ninos, solar flares, Earth orbital variations, and many other aspects of climate change.  It was an informed intellectual debate.  A battle royale.  And they were both right, most of the time concurring, but with slightly different interpretations.

And they both agreed, most of the time.  They disagreed on data selection bias, poor station quality, and other aspects, but they are both excellent scientists, and respected pillars in their fields.

Why climate deniers, Tea Party activists, Roger Ailes, Quick Creationist Fundamentalists, and hardcore Republicans who listen only to the misinformation that Fox broadcasts refuse to listen to them, I do not understand.  I mean, I get the massive energy companies wanting to preserve their subsidies and the status quo, to grow the US Economy into a "Hunger Games" dystopia, sure, that's understandable.  But I don't understand how they want to destroy the future for their grand children, their church congregations (unless they're all hoping to be Raptured [TM]), their supposed legacy.  

I am a red blooded American male who doesn't enjoy watching boxing.  Two guys with gloves, beating the hell out of each other.  So what.  I don't enjoy mixed martial arts very much, though it is incrementally more useful than boxing, since in a coal powered, resource poor, future dystopia, MMA would help to determine who leads which tribe, once all the ammunition, food, and fuel runs out.  But I DO enjoy a lively scientific debate, and one that relies upon massive amounts of data, from thousands and thousands of data points, with n= (very big), is irresistible in its draw upon my thinking mind.  Kudos to Diane Rehm for putting such a battle royale together on her show this morning, and moderating it beautifully.

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