The vast majority of those who deny climate change are Americans... religious Americans.
Notably so in the Evangelical sects of the US.

The issue is how to deal with them, their careless treatment of the planet, it's resources, etc.

I've found the following logic to work on occasion.
I've summarised it into a "passage" for easier reading. It also makes more sense to the religious in this form... for some reason.

(I don't believe in god... but the only thing that makes sense to these people is god and what their imaginary friend may or may not want... so I had to use that angle.)

"Did god not make trees flammable?
The waters taintable?
Why then do you believe his largest and greatest creation of all was not created equally as fragile?
Your life is a test. And this planet, gods house and greatest creation, is a part of that test.

Hell itself cannot enforce the level of fury god will show you when he sees what YOU have willingly done to his house... while arrogantly claiming you've done nothing."

Of course, feel free to throw up a little upon reading the "god" parts... I threw up a little writing them... unfortunately, I can't effectively deliver the message to them with "Who doesn't exist" tacked on to every sentence.
... they tend to catch on to you being Atheist that way.

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I came up with a similar approach as a child:

- God created Earth and everything in it.

- God gave people dominion over the Earth.

- Ergo, it only makes sense that we are tasked with respecting god's creation and taking care of it, as he trusted us to do.

That said, I firmly believe that the vast majority of resistance to environmental friendliness is political. Earth-friendly is equated with Liberals/Democrats, and heaven forbid an evangelical Christian be seen siding with Liberals/Democrats.

The rationalization around this is that the Rapture is going to happen any second now, so what does it matter if we take care of the Earth. It won't be here and neither will we. That and god is all-powerful, so we don't have to take care of the Earth; god will do that himself.

Of course, when I try to counter with, "If the Rapture is going to happen any second now, why vote? If god is so powerful and interested in American politics why not simply have faith that god will put the right person in office without you having to bother going to the polls?

Interestingly, they rarely have an answer to this.
This all is taking the assumptions that:

1) there is climate change occurring
2) that man is responsible or at least mostly responsible
3) that we can actually make any real impact even if we do try and change our behavior.

1. I would cheerfully agree that the climate is changing. It has been changing since the world was formed. The world has gotten warmer and colder many times before people or our evil SUV's existed. It will continue to change for as long as the world exists.

2. The more critical concern. The cause and effects is what is driving this debate. There are many studies showing that the warming trend has slowed or reversed during the last decade. Hence the need to call it climate change instead of global warming. Therefore, no matter what the climate does, it fits the theory. As it is often said about Creation Science, or Intelligent Design, if it is a theory that can predict anything, it means it is useless for any meaningful consideration. There was a report out in the last week where it is being projected that the world will be substantially cooler starting in 2014. The world keeps warming and cooling regardless of our activities. I find it fascinating that the roles of atheists and theists have been reversed in this debate. The theists are asking for more proof and definite proof before we start making radical changes to our economy. Normally, it is the atheists asking for the proof. Kind of ironic, really. Now, how do we know that humans are responsible? Why, from computer models. So, once we move beyond computer models, what is the actual proof? It disappears.

3. The real kicker. We would have to revert to carbon outputs from the 1800’s. That simply is not going to happen. At the recent Copenhagen conference, the participants agreed that even if their proposals were enacted it would not make any difference. So, we are going to commit economic suicide and not even get any benefit from it. I would say that is the real definition of insanity.
How stunningly backwards, Jeffrey. Spoken like a true denialist. There are tons of evidence. You're simply choosing to dismiss it. Just like a creationist.

1. The climate has never changed like this before. Not this rapidly. Not with CO2 levels rising in advance of temperatures, rather than afterwards.

2. No naturally variable phenomenon moves in a straight line. There will be fluctuations. The world does warm and cool despite our actions, but our actions are clearly driving the baseline temperature upwards. It is naive or disingenuous to assume from a few years that the trend line is reversing. In any case, the last decade is still the hottest on record. Your assertion that anthropogenic global warming theory predicts whatever you want it to predict is nonsense. It predicts warming, and has done so reasonably accurately. The reason the term "climate change" is preferred is because local effects will be varied. The planet is clearly warming, and if we continue to pump insulators into the atmosphere, it's hard to understand how that won't continue. Climate models are not simply bigger weather models. The inputs and outputs at the climate level are actually simpler and easier to understand than those at the weather level. We know that humans are responsible for the recent unprecedented warming because we've been dumping enormous amounts of insulators (CO2, methane, etc) into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and insulators will do what insulators do. The denialists have no plausible mechanism by which the planet would counter this known physics effect. Wishing doesn't make it so.

3. Your assumption that converting to a green economy would be economic suicide is merely an assumption, and it flies in the face of historical technological transitions kicking off enormous economic booms. It also flies in the face of the fact that a several-degrees-hotter planet will also be economically disastrous. We are already committing economic suicide with business as usual. We have no choice but to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as we can.
Thank you so much Jason. I was just busy getting hot under the collar over that diatribe, posted before you, and anticipating the painful process of using monosyllabic language to this cretin. You have presented the truth eloquently and saved me a good deal of tedium. I thank you once again ;)
I am not disputing that a warming trend is occuring. I am questioning the basis for this trend. To try and dismiss these concerns and call it a being in denial is to deny yourself the information that flies in the face of the climate change issue.

1. The idea that man-made pollution is responsible for global warming is not supported by historical fact. The period known as the Holocene Maximum is a good example-- so-named because it was the hottest period in human history. The interesting thing is this period occurred approximately 7500 to 4000 years B.P. (before present)-- long before humans invented industrial pollution.

2. CO2 in our atmosphere has been increasing steadily for the last 18,000 years-- long before humans invented smokestacks. Unless you count campfires and intestinal gas, man played no role in the pre-industrial increases.

As shown in the data of Ice Core from the Soviet Station Vostok in Antarctica, CO2 concentrations in earth's atmosphere move with temperature. Both temperatures and CO2 have been on the increase for 18,000 years. Interestingly, CO2 lags an average of about 800 years behind the temperature changes-- confirming that CO2 is not a primary driver of the temperature changes.

Incidentally, earth's temperature and CO2 levels today have reached levels similar to a previous interglacial cycle of 120,000 - 140,000 years ago. From beginning to end this cycle lasted about 20,000 years. This is known as the Eemian Interglacial Period and the earth returned to a full-fledged ice age immediately afterward.

3. Total human contributions to greenhouse gases account for only about 0.28% of the "greenhouse effect". Anthropogenic (man-made) carbon dioxide (CO2) comprises about 0.117% of this total, and man-made sources of other gases (methane, nitrous oxide (NOX), other misc. gases) contributes another 0.163% .

Approximately 99.72% of the "greenhouse effect" is due to natural causes -- mostly water vapor and traces of other gases, which we can do nothing at all about. Eliminating human activity altogether would have little impact on climate change.

It is not "being in denial" to question something when there is conflicting data on the issue. What it does do is demonstrate we need to research this more before we call it settled science.
Jeffrey, it certainly is denial if you cherry pick the few dozen findings that seem to counter the idea from among the few thousand that support it. This is precisely what creationists do--they walk right past the mountains of confirming evidence to pick up a rock that looks a little odd and say, "See! Evolution is bunk!"

In any case, if by CO2 rising steadily, you mean with an unprecedented upward spike since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, then sure. Greenhouse gases are necessary to keep us alive, assuming they more or less stay in equilibrium. Your data in your third point confuses amount with rate. A small increase in the rate of greenhouse gas release can lead to a large difference in amount of greenhouse gases present over time, which is precisely what has happened. It's like compound interest in a savings account. Of course, in the case of AGW, the interest rate has been rising dramatically since World War II. To quote from Wikipedia:

Since about 1750 human activity has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Measured atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are currently 100 ppmv higher than pre-industrial levels. Natural sources of carbon dioxide are more than 20 times greater than sources due to human activity, but over periods longer than a few years natural sources are closely balanced by natural sinks such as weathering of continental rocks and photosynthesis of carbon compounds by plants and marine plankton. As a result of this balance, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide remained between 260 and 280 parts per million for the 10,000 years between the end of the last glacial maximum and the start of the industrial era.

Now CO2 is at 380ppm, and rising fast because of human emissions. That's a 35% increase, for those of you in the back row. A 35% increase in an atmospheric insulator since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It is pure magical thinking to expect that that would not have an effect on global mean temperature. I have yet to hear an AGW denier propose any mechanim whatsoever that might prevent warming in the face of such a dramatic change. What do you think would happen to your heating and cooling bills if you added a third more insulation to the walls and roof of your house, without any changes to the weather or your door and window opening habits? Be honest.

It has always baffled me that anybody, theist or otherwise, could think that human activity is simply too insignificant to alter our environment. Have you met humans? We're in the habit of cutting down the "limitless" forests until there aren't any trees left. Easter Island is an extreme example, but we're mowing down the rainforests pretty efficiently, too, and have removed much of the original forest cover everywhere we've lived. We fish until the fish run out. We irrigate until rivers dry up. If humans are good at anything at all, it's figuring out a neat trick and doing it to death. The planet, and the atmosphere in particular, simply isn't that big.

You must have missed it in my previous post, but CO2 typically lags temperature rise (though not always--it has driven temperature rise in the distant past), and CO2 increases have preceded (and caused) the recent spike, so your second point is incorrect--CO2 can certainly be a primary driver of temperature change. What we're seeing now has nothing to do with ice ages, which you'd know if you weren't dismissing the bulk of the science in order to cherry-pick to support your wishful thinking. See here for a handy list. Or here, particularly number 27.

Just as with evolution, there is no real scientific debate about the human role in global warming. There are a handful of counterarguments, all of which have been thoroughly debunked, though that doesn't stop people from circulating them, also just like creationists do. What is missing from the counterarguments is any plausible means by which the addition of so much greenhouse gas wouldn't cause a rise in temperature. Think about that. You can question the science all you want, but if you don't have any alternative answers, then you're just in denial. If, for example, you doubt that we use oxygen to metabolize our food into energy, but you don't have a better explanation, then what are you accomplishing by denying the oxygen explanation?
First off, nothing in any of my posts indicate that I do not accept that people could alter the environment.

Second, I have never said it is impossible that the Earth is warming due to manmade emissions. It is possible.

What I have said, is that there is a data which indicates that the theory that manmade emissions is the culprit may not be accurate.

To equate that to a Creationist refusing to accept evolution is absurd.

It has only been over the past few years as the extent that our society will be altered has become known that this issue has been looked at with a questioning eye. We see data manipulation by the people advocating the global warming side and hear other scientists point out that there is alternative answers to what is making the climate change and we say, whoa, lets slow down and research this more before making changes that may not be necessary and may be bad for the economy. Especially, when the dramatic changes being proposed may make no difference in the climate.
Actually, Jeffrey, everything you said pretty much adds up to the idea that what humans do makes no difference to the environment. You sum up that way in your latest post: "Especially, when the dramatic changes being proposed may make no difference in the climate."

And as I repeatedly pointed out, your data does not say what you think it says. The comparison to the creationist way of "doing science" is perfectly apt. You are strenuously avoiding the overwhelming corpus of evidence and desperately clutching at contrarian straws, even when they are shown to be bogus.

We have known since 1859 that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. We have known since the 1950s that CO2 has been rising dramatically since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and have been tracking an accelerating rate of that increase since then.

The "data manipulation" you cite on the part of climate researchers is a baseless smear, encouraged by some impolitic emails stolen by nameless hackers who you appear to place more trust in than you do in scientists who are after all only human.

The "alternative answers" you refer to are not, in fact, answers, but rather questions. If, as I keep saying, those who oppose the explanation of anthropogenic global warming had a plausible alternate explanation, we would be having a far different discussion. They don't.

We are in the midst of a global crisis precipitated by shortsighted human action. We now know better. We should take steps to correct our errors and limit the damage we have done and are doing. To argue otherwise is uninformed and irresponsible.
While I am sure it is convenient and expedient to tell me what I actually meant when I respond, it hardly makes your comment accurate.

Additionally, whether or not you say that my data does not say what I think it does does not make your statements accurate either.

There is a wealth of information on reasons why the global warming scenario is based on faulty science and misguided intentions.

There are a lot of problems in the world. Many can be traced to an over population of people in the world. But that is not going to change overnight.

And the real reality is that any debate you and I have does not change anything. In fact, it reinforces the problem. You can point to articles reinforcing your point of view and I can can point to ones that agree with me.

You know it is interesting. When I debate with you, I feel like I am debating a Christian. You probably feel the same. You said my viewpoints were the same as a Creationist. Which I find funny, because I feel the same about your viewpoints. There does not seem to any points of common ground. We both agree that global warming is occurring, yet the cause is something we are on polar opposites of. We joined this site because we are both atheists. Yet, we do not agree on everything. The world community also does not agree on many things either. Religion, history, politics or even science are often points of contention.

But I didn't join this site to get into arguments. I have enough of that in other places. So, I am stopping here.
Uh-huh. Well, Jeffrey, one of us is actually correct. I'm guessing it's the one that goes with the preponderance of the evidence and the plausible mechanism, rather than the one who thinks the two sides are even remotely matched and who has no plausible mechanism. And just because you don't want to stand by your statements doesn't mean I interpreted them incorrectly. You can bow out, but you don't get to call it a draw.
I say regardless of the belief of global warming its obvious humans are causing a bum load of environmental damage. I'd rather be on the cautious side then end up letting problems get worse. I lean torward GW existing. I mean whats wrong with getting more environmental?
This all is taking the assumptions that:

1) there is climate change occurring
2) that man is responsible or at least mostly responsible
3) that we can actually make any real impact even if we do try and change our behavior.

1) To compare current climate change to "The climate has changed throughout Earth's history" is analogous to comparing the BP oil spill to naturally occurring oil spills. Science's best minds have yet to see evidence of climate changing this quickly without some major catastrophic event, such as an asteroid or a sudden trend of tons of volcanos going off at once. Leading us to...

2) The only major change to the Earth's environment in the last 200 years is humankind, it's population, it's consumption, and its output. A 3 year old can figure it out.

The reason for the trend towards the phrase "Climate Change" instead of "Global Warming" is that the uneducated masses misinterpret the phrase "Global Warming." It is a scientifically accurate phrase. The Earth's global temperature is indeed rising and that has not changed. But the uneducated masses see, say, a few years of cooling weather or a record snowstorm this year, and don't understand how to reconcile it with a phrase they don't understand like "Global Warming." Hence, a more layman's friendly "Climate Change."

3) If the world got it's shit together, we could at least slow down the trend if not reverse it. True, we'll probably never go back to pre 1800's era consumption of fossil fuel, but we don't necessarily have to. We only have to consume at a rate equal to or less than it takes for the earth to reproduce it. We already have the technology to make many of our products out of cheap, fast-renewable hemp. We have the technology to run vehicles on ethanol and vegetable oil. Solar and wind technology exist. We have the ability to not use so damn much plastic.

Problem is, getting the world at large to switch to these. And that's where I agree - I'm not sure that will ever happen. But it is possible.




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