Deniers Don’t Know, and Don’t Want to Know

April 11, 2017


“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see, but we don’t know that yet. … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

 – EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt

Ignorance is no crime. Disagreeing is no sin. But Denial is something different.

Scott Pruitt, above, states precisely the current position of climate deniers who don’t wish to be seen as irredeemable troglodytes – yes, climate is changing, they say, but we need more study to tell whether those observed changes are indeed human caused.
My own congressperson’s Chief of Staff told me as much just a few weeks ago, which was the take-off point for the video here

There’s a problem, tho.
Advocating continuing research implies that you are actually going to continue research.
The budget priorities outlined by the new President belie that.

New York Times:

Among the sweeping cuts in the Trump administration’s 53-page budget blueprint released last month, one paragraph stood out to climate researchers. It proposed eliminating four of NASA’s climate science missions, including instruments to study clouds, small airborne particles, the flow of carbon dioxide and other elements of the atmosphere and oceans.

The blueprint is as much a political document as a fiscal plan, in this case designed to send a message that the administration intends to pursue a long-sought goal of some conservatives: to clamp down on NASA’s study of Earthrather than space. But Congress may have other ideas, especially since the projects are not very costly. The savings from eliminating the earth science programs, which include the missions, would total $102 million out of a proposed agency budget of $19 billion.

Long before President Trump was elected, climate researchers have warned that the nation’s climate monitoring capabilities — which include satellites as well as air- and surface-based instruments — were less than adequate and faced data collection gaps and other uncertainties. Elimination of any of the missions would be a further blow, they said.

“That’s what’s giving my colleagues and myself heart palpitations as we think about what might be lost,” said Betsy Weatherhead, an expert on environmental monitoring at the University of Colorado.

In the past, NASA has built and operated climate satellites and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has operated weather satellites. While there is some overlap, weather satellites focus on basics like clouds, winds, temperatures and moisture to provide information for forecasts. Most of NASA’s instruments are designed to provide long-term records of phenomena like ice-sheet thickness, sea-level rise, vegetation changes and the makeup of the atmosphere.

NASA designed a flurry of instruments two decades ago, including about 10 that were launched aboard two satellites, Terra and Aqua. Weather satellites have been in use for about five decades and have become increasingly sophisticated.

After a scare at the beginning of this decade when it looked like NOAA might have no functioning weather satellites for a time — a potentially disastrous situation — the agency now has plans and funding to replace its satellites as required. But there are currently few plans to replace NASA’s instruments, many of which are at or near the end of their useful lives.

“Climate monitoring has fallen into this big gap between the agencies,” said Thomas P. Ackerman, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington.

The priority has been on gathering weather data,” Dr. Weatherhead said, “because we understand the value of weather data.”

That priority is reflected in the proposed Trump budget, which eliminates the NASA missions while also calling for full funding of NOAA’s replacement orbiters.

Ignorance can be fixed. Stupidity is forever. With therapy, Denial generally yields, but only after intense pain.
It’s congressional recess. Turn up the heat. Pressure works.

10 Responses to “Deniers Don’t Know, and Don’t Want to Know”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    There is hardly much stupidity. These deniers know exactly what they’re doing.
    => Heartland: What’s your story?

  2. Political pressure, yes. But the people who need convincing are the general public. I’m afraid they’re stuck in a “thinking fast” loop. (Kahneman & Twersky)

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      Difficult to reach the public when the fossil party has its foot on the throat of the media and the reigns of most other institutions and well-funded entities.

      • I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it again: While the fossil fuel companies don’t help, they are essentially providing fig leaves to people who don’t want to change their lives or personal economies. Towns don’t want to stop supporting developers. People won’t vote the slightest increase in their gasoline prices to support public transportation (or anything else, e.g., appreciable Carbon Tax), and people fly all over the place, for both business and personal reasons, without offsetting the full cost of it. People don’t like big PV panels in yards. And people certainly don’t want a wind turbines in town, even if it is, at present, the cheapest before-subsidies generator of electricity that can be had.

        And, to Gingerbaker, putting PV panels on own roofs might be good for personal economy, but you are correct that it is not an answer without cooperation of neighbors, at least in the direction of microgrids, and regional grids.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      And yet polls show that the vast majority of Americans want AGW fixed.

      The problem is that all this comes at a time when the economic circumstances of almost everyone in America have been degrading for 40 years. So, economic security issues – how to afford healthcare, buying food, paying for a home or college, paying for gasoline and home heating – clog up people’s consciences.

      Which is why I think it is important to rightfully frame RE as a huge opportunity to save people money. Which is guaranteed to happen if we build us a new electrical utility system as a national comprehensive project at lowest possible and shared cost and ownership. A very different approach than touting individual ownership of the PV panels on one’s own roof.

  3. ubrew12 Says:

    In the entire history of Spaceflight, there have been five fairing mechanism failures. five out of thousands of flights. That is an example of how robust these mechanisms are, how overdesigned and overtested they are. One was an American NASA payload from the early 1960s, one was South Korea’s first ever missile launch (put these two down to inexperience). The last three were Earth-Science payloads: one in the 1990s was a Earth-viewing camera, and the other two, in the 2000s, were NASA Climate Science missions. Given the vanishingly small fraction of total Spaceflight missions that end in fairing mechanism failure, and the vanishingly small fraction of missions that carry out Climate Science (most are military or commercial space), the probability that a mission would be both is approximately zero. The possibility of it happening twice is zero squared. After Orbital Sciences failed the first fairing, NASA did a complete review, took two years, deemed it worthy, launched again, and it failed again. There’s no way that could happen once, much less twice. Yet, a person with the right access, just before launch, could fail a fairing with a liberal application of Superglue or some Duct tape. The mechanism is designed for zero-G deployment: its not really pushing against anything once the rocket is in orbit. The cost to the US taxpayer was ~$1 billion for these losses. The Trump NASA budget just reinforces my belief that they were sabotaged by an industry that is extremely powerful and without morals.

  4. Tom Bates Says:

    WOW, the degree of paranoia in these posting just shows a lot of people really really need mental health services. We actually know how much CO2 is warming the world. A study from Berkeley labs found it was 2/10ths of a watt more warming as CO2 increased from 2000 to 2009. That happens to be 4150 times less than normal solar gain. If one assumes the CO2 will increase at the same rate to 2100 AD the extra warming over 2000 will be 0.038F which is pretty small.

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