Jul 122011
 
Global Warming and Climate Change Information

Global Warming and Climate Change: How did we get here?

Global Warming and Climate Change: What happened to get us so close to a worldwide crisis?

The climate change journal is here to provide a different view on Climate Change and Global Warming.  The science behind these problems is settled, and we invite any visitors who still have doubts to go to our “Science” page. Thus the Climate Change Journal is not here to encourage scientific debate and discussion.  There is no reason to spend time debating settled science.  Instead this web site is designed to try to understand how so many people can be convinced or other wise choose to deny the existence of a problem that could have catastrophic consequences and will be very expensive to fix.  In other words, what is it about us that got us here, inexplicably on the edge of global crisis.

We will explore the cycle of denial when it comes to climate change and global warming, as follows:

- Step 1 Corporate PRSome corporations and their interest groups have a strong motivation to promote global warming and climate change denialWe explore the current state of ethics when it comes to big oil and gas producers, as well as manufacturers who seem to be willing to use any means necessary, including spreading flawed data, myths that have no scientific basis, and manipulated statistics.  Some business, to their credit, are spending money to debate the fact that many solutions would be too expensive and damaging, which is a completely fair debate.  But why does this corporate PR work?  How do they make it compelling?  The answer is that they know their audience, and this is explored in steps 2 and 3 of the cycle of global warming denial.

Step 2: Organizing the PR into a collection of myths: The intended audience at which the corporate denial campaigns are targeted to like to have a coherent and steady set of “facts” to back the denial and skepticism that is being pushed.  This group, as can be seen in step 3, is comforted by certainty and threatened by uncertainty.  Thus this group will be susceptible to an unwavering set of “facts”, even if they not based on sound science, because they will give the feeling of certainty that sometimes complex science cannot provide.

- Step 3: Tapping into the psychology of denial: For a certain group of people, a large swath of the population, the global warming and climate change problem taps into a set of deeply held fears” Fears of government taking too much control, fears of expensive solutions, and worries about something that in itself may be uncertain yet dangerous.  Thus one reason it is so easy to promote deial and skepticism about global warming and climate change is that this group is already looking for psychological relief ?

- Step 4 How we can create change: The next step is a new step that is not fully taking place.  This step would find ways to effectively break through global warming denial and skepticism - how can we actually promote healthy debate and discussion about potential solutions that is balanced and not too far to the extreme of hurting business with cumbersome solutions but also addressing this growing threat?  How can we effectively help limit the effects of the psychological need to deny global warming even if it exists so this debate can start?

We also have a page dedicated to Holding the purposeful deniers responsible.  We have to learn from our mistakes throughout human history, and this includes understanding those who promoted ideas that were harmful to society so that we can recognize the next round of issues.  We predict that Global Warming and Climate Change will become a great example of the power of denial, the strength of a certain psychology, and the corrupting effects that big business can have when it wants to.  This sections aim is to hold those people, political parties, and groups who are promoting denial and doubt responsible so that we see these issues more clearly and prevent this kind of problem from repeating in other areas.

Thanks for visiting, and we welcome your participation!

 Posted by at 8:15 pm
Dec 132013
 

You may think that we’ve lost our minds to think that the Democrats and Republicans in the US will eventually agree that global warming and climate change is actually happening.  But history does show that when the evidence becomes completely undeniable even a resistant political party who has been trying to be good soldiers for big business, has to give in to the pressure of realizing the obvious.  Now of course many of would say that the evidence of global warming and climate change is already quite clear and obvious, but unfortunately there is still room for the kind of denial we discuss in this journal – and there is a ton of money behind promoting that global warming and climate change denial.  But at some point, as happened with cigarettes some years ago when the Republican party had to stop protecting the tobacco producers and manufacturers despite their money, they will need to stop protecting the big businesses who do not want global warming legislation that would harm their bottom lines.

There are several kinds of things that could happen to lead to the Republican Party backing down on their protection of big business and actually agreeing that global warming and climate change is happening:

1. Actual expenses passed on to consumers would rise to the point that voters get increasingly frustrated no matter how much money is fighting to keep global warming and climate change denial going.  For example, the insurance industry is well aware of global warming and climate change and its effect on weather.  As rates continue to rise, and as homeowners and business insurance companies describe the real reasons why, this will combat the other companies pushing denial.

2. Effects on outdoor activities may promote a lowering of denial – as more people who have been denying global warming and climate change see that the ski slopes are closed more often, or that their favorite outdoor hobby is affected, they may find it harder to deny.

3. As direct costs of heating or cooling a home or business rise, and the rise os obvious because the homeowner or business owner keeps track of these expenses as time goes on, it may become harder to deny global warming and climate change.

 Posted by at 12:27 pm
Oct 062013
 

It used to be relatively easy and inexpensive to get insurance coverage for a small second home in the woods.  Basically it was a win-win, because the owner needed the coverage in order to get a mortgage, and the insurance company could collect even a small premium they’d never have to pay out on.  After all, a cabin in the woods was particularly safe, almost protected by its seclusion.  But enter global warming and climate change and we have a completely different story altogether.

Insurance companies still have few worries about many aspects of insuring small seasonal houses or cabins, given that the overall value is low, the contents are usually not incredibly expensive, and they are still mostly protected by their own seclusion.  However, a cabin in the woods is now threatened by many more weather events than ever before, thanks to global warming and climate change.  For example, if it is near water there can be concerns about dramatic changes in the water levels due to climate change and global warming affecting precipitation in that area.  And more storms mean more chances for trees to fall, wind to cause damage, or water to get in.  And of course global warming and climate change does not just predict more storms in some areas but more violent storms as well.

So once again we see that the insurance industry, whose money is actually on the line in the opposite way as the oil and gas companies who want to promote denial, are perfectly willing not only to believe science but actively pursue knowledge about the effects of global warming and climate change.  If only this industry might get more vocal and outspoken about the problem, as opposed to merely charging higher rates.  But then again, most groups feel somewhat powerless in the face of the sheer mount of money going into global warming denial.

 Posted by at 11:41 am
Jul 032013
 

One way to break through global warming and climate change denial is through pointing out obvious effects of these issues on a person who is holding onto denial.  Remember, many people who deny climate change are doing so because they have a strong – and in some ways otherwise healthy – need for things to remain the same, and for a lack of disruption in their world.  As we’ve mentioned many times, the turning point in addressing global warming denial may be in getting the deniers to see that climate change actually presents a greater threat to stability than doing nothing.  Yet the denial often prevents them from truly hearing the science, or understanding climate change through evidence in other parts of the world.

If you know what the effects of climate change will be in your area, and instead of preaching science or asking someone to look at the effects of global warming in the arctic you point out the potential effects where you live, you may be able to tap into the person’s fear of instability and change.  For example, if you know that your area will see an increase in certain invasive plant species, or more of certain insects, or drought conditions that affect the drinking water supply, or more rain that causes flooding, gently relate these worries to the climate change denier you know.  Plant these concerns as a seed, and when any of them actually happens, the denial may be broken.

Now of course this method of breaking through climate change denial will take a while, and it may be depressing to watch how much evidence is actually needed before the person changes his or her mind about things.  But unfortunately the effects of global warming are coming on fast, and as things accelerate this method of breaking denial may actually become more effective.

 Posted by at 11:18 am
Feb 122013
 

A very common question asked out loud and internally by many Americans who realize that Global Warming is happening is why we seem to be the one country that cannot fully understand that climate change is happening.  It seems odd, perhaps ironic, given that we in the U.S. pride ourselves on being the most advanced country – advanced in many ways due to science and technology which are also the factors that point the rest of the world toward believing in global warming.    Why do many in the use deny the existence of global warming and climate change then?

One major reason why Americans are so resistant to believing in climate change is that our country has given far more rights and much more power to corporate interests.  We even allow corporations the right of personhood, according to the Supreme Court.  So in this country corporations are allowed to play an intimate part in elections and electioneering communications, every two years they have a chance not only to influence voters but also make sure that politicians are on their side.  Then even after the elections the corporate interests are given much more access to politicians here than most other places, with the ability to influence decisions that are made.  This power given to corporate interests far exceeds any power given to the scientific community or the nonprofits desperately trying to get the word out about climate change.

Unfortunately these right of corporate interests to free speech allows them to use their power to influence people into believing what is in the best interests of the corporation, not the general public.  And since corporate America places incredible pressure on its leaders, they need to make decisions that will benefit the company in the short-term regardless of the long-term problems that could be caused to the public.

 

Feb 092013
 

The day this post is being written two feet of snow has fallen on Eastern Massachusetts and almost three feet fell on parts of Connecticut.  Some in the global warming and climate change community will be quick to blame climate change.   But until today in the winter of 2012-2013 it had actually been quite snow-free, which was a common reason climate change deniers were pointing to a lack of global warming.  We say that both groups cannot possibly be sure they are correct, based on their simple assumptions that had to do either with one event or a part of one winter in one region.

One snowstorm, hurricane, tornado outbreak, or warm spell proves nothing about whether climate change and global warming actually exist.  One cold spell, lack of snow, or otherwise calm weather period does not prove that it does not.  So anyone you hear promoting or denying global warming after a singular weather event should be largely ignored.  However, those who are meticulously following the weather patterns and stringing together various different weather events into a coherent pattern or trends are the ones who are more reliable.  They are also much more likely to be on the side of global warming and climate change because that is where the trends are actually emerging.

Some of the ways trends are being followed is are either to count totals – the numbers of severe weather events over a large area – or by looking at smaller “anomalies” in the weather such as deviations from normal temperatures or precipitation.  Both of these methods provide much more statistical certainly that a comment about a few weather events.  And again, these patterns are on the side of the believers, since most global warming deniers spend more time trying to discredit the methods of those who advance trends than they do advancing their own trends that global warming is not happening!

Dec 132012
 

Unfortunately we are not optimistic about the prospects for effective legislation regarding climate change and global warming in 2013.  Denial and skepticism are still strong, as are the companies and groups promoting them.  In fact, many members of congress have the oil, gas, and other companies that have a vested interest in pushing climate change and global warming denial to thank for their election.  And as we look to 2014, the next election, we know that many members of congress will be in a paranoid rush to raise unlimited corporate money in our post Citizen’s Unites world – and wealthy companies that are against climate change legislation are key for some.

Is there room for any optimism?  Yes, given that there are a good number of politicians who are not in the pocket of these companies, and represent constituents who want this problem addressed.  And this includes the president.  In addition, we’ve certainly seen a softening among some members after recent weather events and other evidence has pushed people to challenge their sense of denial.

Let’s assume that above two factors work to basically cancel each other out.  The biggest factor, then, will likely be the state of the economy.  Generally in a stronger economy politicians, and the people they represent, will have a higher tolerance for legislation that is attacked by one side as unfair or potentially harmful to business and the economy.  And a president who favors this type of legislation will be more likely to take this risk in a healthy economy.  It helps that the current president is not running again, and while he does have to look out for the prospects of his political party and therefore cannot alienate too many voters, he does not have to worry quite as much about the short-term political effects of a controversial decision.

So where does that leave us with regard to climate change and global warming legislation in 2013?  The picture may be a bit more optimistic that it was this year, but how much will likely depend on the state of the economy.

 Posted by at 12:23 pm
Nov 242012
 

In reading the heading to this post you might think we are going to describe polls that ask people whether they believe in global warming and then ask what political party they belong to.  There have certainly been plenty of those, but conclusions about what the two political parties generally believe are about as settled as climate change science itself, and certainly not worth a post.  Actually what we want to describe here is the relationship between the attitude people had about political polling in the 2012 elections and the attitude some have toward global warming science.

One of the most fascinating parts of the 2012 election, at least to a scientist or mathematician, was how so many people on the right were able to ignore the science behind political polling.  They called it skewed, biased, and inaccurate.  When asked why, they claimed that the pollsters had their own biases and these biases played out in how they designed and implemented their methods.  Even when some sites, some of which have now gained well-deserved notoriety for their accuracy, published the results of large aggregations of polls, they were attacked as biased when all they were doing was applying math and science to bring all the polling data together.

The parallel with climate change and global warming science is almost striking.  When people, again usually on the conservative side, want to deny the existence of these problems in the face of scientific and mathematical findings, they attack the scientists and mathematicians who are publishing the results of solid studies.  They attack the studies even if they follow tried and true methods that have been used for decades if not centuries.  And above all else, they aim to get others to join them in their opinion and they hope to spread their own denial and skepticism.

 Posted by at 11:47 am
Oct 242012
 

We love polar bears. We love coral reefs. We think it’s awful that human activity will cause serious harm to animals and the ecosystem in general. Yet that is not why we are here, and not the reason why we are so dedicated to stopping the cycle of global warming and climate change denial. We are here because we firmly believe that this is a problem that is a fiscal time bomb, a huge bill that we will be passing on to future generations who will need to address the dramatic effects of the problem not just to save polar bears, but to fix the effects on our economy.

Are we alarmists? No. In fact, we believe that the term “alarmist” was conveniently coined by those with an interest in stifling the discussion. A true global warming “alarmist” would not be merely asking people to look at the scientific facts about what is happening now and where it could lead – and taking the step to only pay attention to science that is published independent of anyone with a vested interest on pushing denial and science that is done with methods that have been generally accepted in research methods for decades. An “alarmist” would push for solutions that would not be fair to business interests now, and instead would push for overreaction. We are not.

At the Climate Change Journal all we are pushing for is a let down of the cycle of denial for long enough so that people can rationally consider the science and logic behind what is happening, and then rationally consider solutions. We are hoping people will consider the intentions of those who are pushing one side or the other of this argument – i.e. is it really believable that scientists are pushing this theory because it brings them research money despite the fact that they were all working even before they started studying this problem, or should we consider the fact that corporate interests who have literally billions to truly lose may be pushing their side a bit harder.

We do not want alarm. We just want rational consideration, rational discussion of solutions, and then a cooperative approach to solving the problem.

Aug 232012
 

Here at The Climate Change Journal we welcome a fair debate.  In fact, not only do we welcome it, we wish there were more people in positions of power willing to debate the issues of global warming and climate change openly and honestly.  Is this because we think the side that pushes for “fixes” to the problem would always win?  Actually, no.  In fact, our point here is that we wish that harmful corporate PR would be stopped and denial lifted so that we could truly figure out how to deal with this situation in ways that do not stifle the economy or put the US and other countries that decide to tackle the problem at an economic disadvantage.

Our site is run by people who are actually in the middle or perhaps even lean to the conservative side when it comes to fiscal responsibility.  The founder of this website has an MBA, and is deeply concerned about the health of the economy.  Thus we are not here to advocate expensive solutions that will grind our economy to a halt or put us at an incredible disadvantage against those countries that decide to do nothing to fix this problem.  We are here to promote a conversation that is fair , instead of one that pits deep pocketed corporations that have a vested interest in promoting denial at all costs against scientists who have little money (or interest) to spend in spreading PR.  Corporate leaders naturally take a short-term view, with their jobs and the health of their companies only as good as the next quarterly report or analyst recommendation.  Unfortunately this means that there is no motivation or interest on the part of corporate players to debate whether their methods are feeding a ticking time bomb whose financial impact on their country may be a few years off.

Bottom line: We want corporations to justify their side without falsifying data, spreading myths, and generally promoting denial for its own sake.  We want people who are susceptible to that denial to understand and recognize that susceptibility and open themselves up to listening to both sides.  And then, most importantly, we want everyone to understand the potential costs involved if we do nothing - the catastrophic financial impacts that we are passing along to future generations.  At that point we can debate solutions to global warming and climate change and try to find some that work both in the near and longer term.

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Aug 162012
 

We have always postulated that Step 3 is where the cycle of climate change denial is most vulnerable.  The people who have a need to deny the existence of climate change and global warming are looking for a world that is stable and unchanging.  In many cases they long for a time in the past that at least psychologically things seemed more secure and predictable.  These entrenched conservatives see the potential threat that if global warming actually exists it will disrupt their feeling of predictability and safety, and therefore they become vulnerable to the corporate PR that creates the myths that they can rally around and therefore not worry.

But at some point the evidence for global warming and climate change could become so overwhelming that not doing anything to slow it down may become a bigger threat to these deniers.  Previously the effects of climate change were hard for the average person who did not follow the science to truly “feel” in his or her everyday life, and this helped propel the various myths that blamed the scientists and called everyone who believed in global warming silly alarmists.  Fears of government taking too much control could also be exploited.

But now, with so many extreme weather events such as incredible historic droughts, some deniers – including some who are very prominent – are beginning to change their tune.  Has their psychology changed?  No, actually the psychology that fears a loss of the status quo and predictability is actually now motivating them in a different direction – the threat of actual climate change is actually causing the same fear or more than the threat of believing in climate change used to present.

Of course, herein lies a problem: We can’t afford to wait too long for more deniers to feel the absolutely obvious and unmistakable effects of global warming, because the longer it takes, the deeper the problem we will have!