Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Climategate

Several of you have asked me during the past few weeks to comment on Climategate--the emails stolen from the University of East Anglia dealing with global warming issues. I will do so here, but I want to go beyond that situation to some of my own personal observations derived my own experiences doing climate-related research.

Let me start with my bottom line points:

Were some of the climategate emails inappropriate? Yes
Have some scientists exaggerated the implications of human caused global warming? Yes.
Are many global warming deniers unreasonable and expressing opinions that are not based in facts or rational thought? Yes.
Is the basic science of climate change now in question because of the climategate emails? No.
Has the whole business gotten too political? Surely.
Are scientists human and sometimes doing things out based on human emotion or group think? Yes.

Climategate emails: I read through more than a hundred of them...particularly the ones that have gotten big attention. These scientists were in circle the wagons mode. Clearly, they felt under pressure, if not threatened, by the global warming (GW) skeptics, and discussed ways of denying the critics information requested through Freedom of Information inquiries. They scientists talked about erasing emails, and not publishing in journals they felt were printing materials they disagreed with. Web sites like "Climate Audit" has become dirty words to some. (I personally love "Climate Audit"!). All of this was inappropriate.

In the famous "trick" email the east Anglia emails talk about replacing the proxy tree ring records with instrumental records for the past several decades (because the tree ring records disagreed with what the instrumental records were saying)--instead of just showing those records and noting the difficulty. Not quite open. Is there any major technical cover up evident in the emails?...not that I could see. Denier and skeptic types are claiming that these emails undermine the whole global warming business...and they are completely wrong about that. But there are some general issues we should talk about.

There is an almost tribal separation going on today between the scientific community and their "allies" (generally of a liberal persuasion) and the denier and critic crowd (many of them of a conservative bent). The denier folks have become angry, with conspiracy theories and accusations of far-left agendas. Whenever there is an article on climate change in newspapers, these people leaves large numbers of online comments. And few of them are well informed about the science. And there is a lot of misinformation on the "pro" global warming side as well. Scientists, unaccustomed to being on the firing line, have gotten defensive--and the emails from climategate really document this attitude.

This defensiveness has now gotten unhealthy for both the science and society. Scientists who attempt to publish material indicating that global warming due to manmade causes is not evident or weak, or who doubt the severity of the problem, are not treated well by some. I have had some first-hand experience with this. I am known as somewhat of a skeptic regarding global warming effects in the NW--although I do believe that greenhouse gases are a serious problem in the long-run. A group of us noted that the snowpack in the Cascades was NOT rapidly melting away, in contrast to some publications by some local climate scientists and publicized by Mayor Nickels. The reaction was intense. One of my colleagues, Mark Albright, who was the first to notice the lack of snowpack loss was fired as associate State Climatologist and the media went wild...we called it Snowpackgate...and it got national attention. I was told in the hallways to keep quiet about it...the denier types would take advantage of it!

We then wrote a paper on the subject (the main contributor being Mark Stoelinga) and submitted it to the Journal of Climate. I have published a lot of papers in my life (roughly 100) and I never had problems like we had with this paper. Very biased associate editor and some reviewers. Four review cycles and it was about to be turned down, until we appealed to the editor, who proved fair and reasonable. This paper has now been accepted for publication, but it really revealed to me the bias in the system. Here is the paper if you are interested:

http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-pdf&doi=10.1175%2F2009JCLI2911.1

Poor papers with significant technical problems, but reflecting the "official" line, get published easily, while papers indicating the global warming is weaker or delayed, go through hurdle after hurdle.

I have heard case after case of similar treatment...so this is no anomaly.

The media tends to publish all kind of threatening predictions about global warming without really researching them. A good example is that suggestion that heavier precipitation will fall in the NW under GW...or is already happening. There is no evidence for this, but it gets repeated over and over again. On the other hand the denier types point to every cold wave or the fact there has NOT been a lot of warming in the last 5-10 years (which doesn't mean anything). And the glaciers! Some of the melting may well be due to man-forced warming...but the melting started early in the last century before CO2 effects were significant.

Another problem is that uncertainty of our climate predictions are often not clearly expressed in various publications--even semi-official ones put out by climate impacts groups of various types. It is sobering to note that the uncertainty in climate predictions has not declined over the past decades. Our models are much better now than thirty years ago, but key aspects of the modeling systems...like how they simulate clouds... are not as realistic as we would like...and this is very important for climate change work. I think people sense there is more uncertainty in the predictions than the official outlets tell them...and that may be part of the fuel of denier rage. The essential physics of warming is quite solid and well understood, but the details...like how clouds will react...are still under investigation.

So perhaps I have been confusing....but the bottom line is that this issue has been completely politicized and confused with both sides using problematic information at times....did this have to happen? If Gore hadn't taken up the mantle of stopping global warming, would things have been better? Can Climategate lead to a better approach and attitude among all parties?

PS: Talking about "Secrets of Snow" at Third Place Books tonight...Lake Forest Park... 7 PM

33 comments:

Steven said...

AGW has become the new PC, which is frustrating... and it is making for strange bedfellows. Politicization and profit motives are polluting the issues into something else entirely.

(Enjoying your book, BTW!)

Big Wave said...

Suspect that Climategate has totally screwed things up for atmospheric researchers who really are doing good work... That said, I remain suspicious of anyone who says that because of "climate change", I personally now have to do this or that (fill in blank).

Julia said...

Thanks for your perspective. I'm sorry that some foolish actions have given the "deniers" some fuel for their fire... the evidence, on the whole, does seem to point towards climate change that is probably exacerbated by human activities. Whether we caused it or not, temperatures ARE changing and ice IS melting, and we are all going to have to deal with it... or many people will have wet feet and empty bellies.

VanLeer said...

I've been teaching climate change for 15 years, and it's always been political. It's not because of Al Gore or anyone else, it's because of how government supports energy policy. The physics of climate change, as you have said, is rock solid. The details of future implications are perhaps unclear, but that is not what skeptics prey upon. They argue it's either not happening, or it's not due to humans digging up and burning 500 million years of stored carbon in two hundred years (have I outed myself as a geologist?). Frankly, it's irrelevant what the local implications are. The world will be different in the next many centuries because of human activities, and we have the ability to modify how different that will come to be. Perhaps some scientists became too socially concerned about the implications of their work and thus their conscience affected their interpersonal communications and their professional positions, but I argue that they are heroes. Scientists have, throughout history, either followed the data without conscience, or spoken what they believed. As long as the science is pointed, the voices of those who do the science should be held in regard, and contrasted with those who merely choose to create doubt with no basis other than their ideology.

JewelyaZ said...

Sorry for the OT post here... but I've just written a new post about Bellevue weather for the Bellevue City News, a neighborhood blog for the Seattle P-I. I'd love it if some of you would read it and leave a comment. Nothing nice to say? Let's talk about the weather

If I've made factual errors, I'd be glad if you pointed them out to me ASAP ... bellevueblogmom @ gmail.com

Thanks!

mugabo said...

I haven't read any of the e-mails, I'm not a meteorologist, and I have both liberal and conservative beliefs.

But I am a critical thinker. One of the things that bugs me is associating "climate change" with "global warming." Oh, we've had the coldest winter ever here in Minnesota, the temperature here in Portland is warmer than usual, there's earlier snow here in Boulder, there's less rain than ever in Peru.

Measured in terms of deserts and forest environments and tundra (and arable areas and ocean temperatures and, and, and...), is it changing for the better or worse for humankind on this spaceship earth? We're resistant to change, but might there not be some positive changes as a result of our involvement/acceleration of the natural cycle?

(Hypothetical question, as I'm already a member of VHEMT). Could climate change actually encourage thinking about the Earth as a whole? Is this just a warning shot across our bow?

Joshua H said...

Wow.

You spend a lot of time lambasting the folks at CRU for being negative in personal emails. I trust that you will now post the contents of your email inbox so that we may pick them apart and see whether or not you ever said any intemperate words about reviewers and journals that you bemoan as picking apart your papers.

Speaking of which, if you find that peer review so taxing, you can do as Climate Audit's Stephen McIntyre (ex-mining CEO, by the way) does and publish in the esteemed journal Energy and Environment. They just published a paper this year by Oliver Manuel, "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", which argued the completely valid scientific point that the Sun is a rocky ball of iron, and that the IPCC knows this and has been hiding this fact in order to perpetuate a fraud to enlarge their salaries.

This is really an eye-opening post for me, and hopefully a few others. I had no idea that this side is where you stacked your chips.

Kenna Wickman said...

Cliff,

Here is Peter Roopnarine's blog on climate change:
http://www.calacademy.org/blogs/climate/
You and your readers might enjoy his perspective.

Peter is a great scientist, an evolutionary paleobiologist at the California Academy of Sciences. He made it very clear to me the difference between scientific thought versus belief systems when I asked him how he responds to people asking him "Do you believe in Evolution?"

His response was that he doesn't believe in anything and that one doesn't "believe in evolution" - but instead, one measures it the way one measures gravity. Its a fact, not something one believes in. One doesn't say "I believe in Gravity" or "I believe in Slugs".

Similarly this whole debate over climate change (an most everything else) can get reduced down to the believers (some believe its happening without understanding it and many believe what the conservative pundits tell tell them despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary!) and those who rely upon evidence. Unfortunately, it seems sometimes that the believers are winning. Worst of all, the decision makers seem ruled by belief systems instead of scientific reasoning and so little progress gets made.

So give them a little nugget like the Climategate emails and belief system mentality takes hold and all of a sudden its festering like an infected pimple, as if it negates thousands of person-hours of peer reviewed research. Unfortunately, this becomes the "hook" that the press reports, causing additional inflammation.

Meanwhile Rome is burning! The heat is melting the glaciers.

KW

Karin Corbin said...

Calm and ordered reasoning is not news worthy. Chaos and potential disaster is newsworthy.

Good luck trying to stop Crusaders by scientific reasoning. They don't respond to much other than the emotional highs in their neural system. You are not their drug of choice, you don't create the needed chemicals to stimulate them.

They are motivated by fright and flight body chemistry responses. It is a chemically addictive high rather than logical reasoning that keeps them fueled. If you can't provide the required fuel for the media or for the Crusaders you will be ignored.

The Crusaders are newsworthy, they and some of the media feed each other that required addictive high. It is a symbiotic relationship.

You just need to figure out how to whip people into a state of emotional frenzy over your scientific findings and everything you want to be published will be front page newsworthy.

Isaac Molitch said...

Cliff,
Thanks for helping to clarify things. Keep up with the good work, seeing things as they are, and not as you think they should be.
I believe this is such a hard issue for so many because the end result conclusion of these issues is the need to downsize the human population down to atleast 2 billion, and there is no way to do that without pain beyond belief.

Tim Flanagan said...

Wow, there are some really intelligent comments here! How much moderating have you done on this one, Cliff?

Sometimes I think I'm the only one in my circle of friends bringing any critical thinking skills to this debate. It's refreshing to find I'm not alone when I have thoughts like:

How can it be that EVERY effect of climate change is a "bad" one? Nobody benefits? How is that possible? Isn't it more likely that the effects are neither "good" nor "bad"? They are effects, and the species affected will have to adjust, or die out. How is this different from the rest of evolutionary history? Isn't extinction the rule, rather than the exception, on planet Earth?

Who cares what people believe about climate change? How is this relevant at all? Science doesn't require faith, I thought. Oh, but public policy does, I guess.

I thought scientists were engaged in an enterprise that is fundamentally "descriptive", not "prescriptive". When did science become a PR game? Oh, it's that public policy angle again.

Of course human activity has an impact on the biosphere. All dynamic systems interact with the environments in which they operate. When birds poop on an island for centuries, they have a huge impact on the local biology. Should we kill all the birds to stop them from "polluting" the island? Are we really wise enough to know for an absolute fact that the birds are really "ruining" the island? What if the bird guano creates a new, different kind of local ecology? Do subjective human value-assessments such as "good" or "bad" have any meaning whatsoever in this context?

I don't think of myself as a pessimist, but I can't help thinking that it's incredibly naive to believe human beings are capable of reaching a global consensus on this, or that whatever global climate-change-mitigation program we implement will actually produce any measurable "benefit" (oops, another anthropocentric subjective assessment). Building the consensus itself appears impossible, and even if it could be done, I'm not at all certain we have a very clear idea of what should actually be done. But heck, I'm not a climate scientist, so how would I know?

So where does that put me? Am I a "denier"? I don't think so. I'm completely open to the possibility of climate change, even catastrophic climate change. It might be happening; I don't know. My beliefs about it are 100% irrelevant to the empirical reality, after all; so I am not all that interested in my beliefs. I'm certainly not interested in yours. Science, I'm interested in.

And public policy? GLOBAL public policy? Here I have some wisdom to share, being a human being myself. My assessment: Even if all the doomsday scenarios are accurate, we're incapable of responding in a coherent way until the impacts have become obvious and undeniable to all.

Weird thing is, I don't even feel that bad about this. It's like my own death; worrying about it won't make it go away, and worrying about it sure impacts my own felt experience of life in a way that feels unpleasant. I guess I'm more in the "serene acquiescence/I'll cross that bridge when I get to it" camp than the "denier" or "crusader" camps.

natchrl8r said...

Cliff, the balanced perspective you offer is much appreciated. Fundamentalism and behavior based on factless faith in any form is not a basis for making decisions. I do believe we are currently in a natural warming trend in the midst of a longer glacial epoch. This does not mean we are not exacerbating and accelerating changes to the delicate web of relationships that make earth liveable for our species and associated critters. Van Leer makes a good point about the rate at which we are releasing carbon to the atmosphere, deny that! Perhaps there are those who feel we should freely exhaust our resources because the earth is going to end when God wills it to anyway. But I'm of the opinion that we should squeeze out as many generations on this rare planetary paradise in a vast cold universe as we can.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog said...

Isaac...I think you are exactly right. The underlying problem the media doesn't talk about is that there are too many people on this planet....and it is getting worse. Global warming is only part of the real problem....sustainability of mankind on a planet of limited resources.....cliff

Josh said...

A lot going on here. Great discussion. I think we need to look at the big picture as well as the nano aspects of this subject. I won't ramble but there is arrogance and ignorance on both sides of the room. Science with its reductionist aspect tries to explain everything in nature while shutting out any imagination beyond 1's and 2's.On the other hand,ignorance in Science whether by choice (religion) or lack of understanding(seattle math books!) creates fear and Conspiracism.

Josh

wildbill said...

With the Chinese opening a GigaW class coal plant each week, for example, I read that if every human was killed tomorrow, the CO2 would more than double anyway in the near future. So, tax and cap is a power grab by Liberals, not a real solution. So, will Liberals drink the coolaide?

Adam Read said...

Not to change the subject or anything, but I am wondering why pass temps are hovering at or below freezing and the forecast is still calling for rain. This is very frustrating as a skier.

John McBride said...

Let's offer an analogy:
While doing research on the world's supply of all water the scientists doing the research detect that water, fresh and salt, contains a known substance that appears with time to be increasing in abundance in the water, probably due to human action, but possibly also for naturally caused reasons. It is believed that in sufficient quantity above a thresh-hold level the substance can do physiological damage and may even possibly kill. A majority of scientists expert on the topic argue that the world should take action to control the human sources of the substance before it reaches what is currently believed to be the "thresh-hold level." But some of the minority of the scientists argue that the substance simply shouldn't be viewed as a threat or that in the least the thresh-hold level is unproven and unsupported. Others argue that too little is known about the history of the quantity of the substance in water and based on past animal life interaction with water no action is necessary until more is known about possible humanity induced affect of the levels of the substance. Still others argue that the cost to take action is too severe relative to the possible known and understood effects of drinking water containing the substance.

What does the world do, whether Liberal or Conservative, Asian or European or Latin or African or.....

I'm for immediately beginning efforts to control the presence of

What would you do?

We swim in the air, we "drink" the air, and life on the planet depends on the air. Even if only marginally greater, the risks due to the increase in CO2 are sufficiently well understood to recognize that we should collectively act while we strive to understand the processes more. Better to try to control poisoned water or poisoned air and then learn that the efforts may have been over-reactive than to not act and discover through research too late that to act has been made irrelevant.

Brad said...

What continually frustrates me about this discussion is the repeated failure to acknowledge what seems to me to be undeniable, whatever one's political bent or other belief system. That is, we as lay people interested in climate, as well as scientists, may not be able to agree whether or not human activity is causing the planet to change, or whether that change is contributing to climate change that is likely to have a negative effect on the planet and/or human life. But there seems little dispute that IF these changes are occurring, the culprit is the burning of fossil fuels.
That being the case, even if there's just a chance these changes are manmade, and a chance the long term effects may be seriously deleterious to human life and health, why not take a dispassionate look at whether we ought to (and have the technology and know-how to) change the way we generate energy? And weigh the plusses and minuses of such a change to see what other impacts that kind of a change might bring? And in doing so, one big effect in changing our dependence on fossil fuel would be to free this country from the economic (and political) stranglehold various nations, particularly in the Middle East, have on the United States. How can pursuing that sort of policy change be a bad thing?

Bruce King said...

I just don't see Professor Mass's statements as anything but an observation of current conditions. A paper on snow loss (or lack thereof) seems pretty tame to me. Odd that it's being resisted.

I'm a farmer -- there is an entire green industry that is organized to make money off the environment in this state; I regularly have to pay a "green tax" to farm. Most recently I've been asked to pay consultants to construct a "salmonid species and resident killer whale habitat management plan" to get a permit to build a hay barn on land that's a half-mile from any body of water, and the "consultant" fee proposed is more than the materials cost of the barn.

Whether it's "save the salmon" or "save the planet" there are vested interests that would like to see things go in this direction. A whole industry devoted to this that benefits from climate change fears.

Bruce King / ebeyfarm.blogspot.com

Kenna Wickman said...

Bruce,

How big is your farm? 4.5 tons of pig feed sounds like a sizeable operation to me but not that large. The study you mention is unfortunately a necessary cost of doing business, and is aimed towards water quality. You may be squeaky clean in your operation but several aren't resulting in sick streams and bays, especially pig farming operations. Thus the requirement. Its not punitive, its being prudent.

KW

wildbill said...

John M's reply was reasoned and I agree. However, there are two separate elements to this: the belief and the cure. Many focus on the issue of belief in GW, or the increasing in CO2, or the man-cause. For most of us the safe harbor is to ask whether your faith in GW, carbon increases and man-cause would fly in Madrid in 1505 and whether you'd be tortured or would need to change your last name to avoid it. My earlier point was that I understand CO2 will double even if all humans were killed so therefore I am a believer and wouldn't be tortured but my belief is not just faith-based.
But, what we do about GW? We do a lot wrong or ineffective expenses things and if we oppose these things, we are accused of not believing. This works fine in Iran. When I see a blogger here propose reprocessing fuel rods nine times, running reactors with 9% fissile elements, and building 1,000 of these base load plants, closing everything else, then I'll run into a believer who actually wants to reduce the RATE of increase in CO2 levels in areas under our control.

theartist said...

I think that there are a lot of ironies lost in the global warming debate.

Of course there's the anti-science bent to the whole debate. I still recall when science was widely accepted, or at least seemed to enjoy more respect than it does today.

I find it ironic that people run around shouting "climate change, climate change!" when pollution is still a much more effective argument to curbing fossil fuel use. I remember when car exhaust was a serious concern, but nowadays it appears GW dominates most discussions of burning fossil fuels, yet findings on pollution are more likely to compel more citizens to action. Sad to say, but the possibility of polar bears going extinct does not mean as much to the average joe or jane than heading out of their house and hacking from the fumes.

Another irony...believing, subscribing, professing climate change is an inherently CONSERVATIVE position. We only have one planet (at least right now) why would we risk the only home we have, that our children have? We only need to look at Venus for how extreme greenhouse effects can get. In addition, geopolitics are always lost in this discussion. I greatly enjoy bringing up that countries like Venezuela, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia benefit most from remaining reliant on fossil fuels, hardly countries I'd describe as "friendly".

I'll agree with Wild Bill on one thing, if we want to get serious about reducing fossil fuels we can't wish away our energy needs. Yes we can conserve, yes we can explore new energy sources, but it won't be enough, not anytime soon. That means revisiting nuclear energy, particularly the newer reactors that run off of already existing nuclear waste and create much LESS toxic byproducts (losing radioactivity over decades, not millenia).

Long post, I just find it sadly humorous how entrenched folks have gotten to where there is not so much a position, but a series of internal inconsistencies. Fascinating discussion Dr. Mass and over time, science does move all but the most radical of people in the direction of its findings.

lamont said...

Tim Flanagan:

Objectively, nothing at all matters. The Earth could suffer geological events which resulted in completely resurfacing it, like happened to Venus 2Bn years ago. We could discover an object the size of Mars on a collision course with the Earth. The Universe doesn't 'care' about any of this and we're just bringing our subjective assessments into the analysis in that it might be 'bad'. Life would eventually get started again on the planet, and definitely the 'winners' would be the species a few billion years in the future who didn't already have DNA-based species around out-competing them. Something wholly novel might evolve.

Those are the kind of logical conclusions that you can come to using the moral relativism argument that you're using.

So, while the Universe doesn't objectively care about this, we definitely do have our own human concerns and subjective feelings about climate change, and you can't argue that away. You can't point to previous mass-extinctions and just claim that its a natural process and that human emotions just cloud the issue.

And while climate changes naturally, normally this is a very slow process. The predicted warming from a business-as-usual CO2 scenario is going to be geologically rapid, which is going to be destructive. I'm highly skeptical that the subjectively good effects compare at all to the subjectively bad effects. And you might, for example, say that higher latitudes would benefit due to milder winters, but that has led to the deforestation and forest fire risk cause by pine beetle infestations in BC and spruce bark beetle in AK.

Nobody really knows what the effects are going to be, but in the old-school definition of political conservatism I think that the old ways and old climate are likely to be better. What is being proposed is instead a *radical* experiment in changing the climate of an entire planet in order to not upset the economic order of energy dependence on the fossil fuels industries (and capitalism will actually respond just fine to switching out the energy industries from coal/oil to wind/solar/natgas).

Also, wildbill: If you stopped human production of CO2 flat-out, *warming* might still double, but CO2 concentrations would stop rising. 450ppm CO2 is a viable target even without killing off the human race.

And really, we're technologically at the point where the cost of conversion is going to be minimal, other than overall effort. Using conservation, natgas, wind and solar and converting transportation to natgas/electric will do it. We just need the incentives and leadership from the government to retool (and in the process, boost the economy and create jobs).

wildbill said...

I forget about a couple of points. It's certainly true if all our base load plants ran on methane (natgas) no CO2 would be emitted, nor if we converted all our rotating machinery to methane-electric. However, if God convinced us all to drink the Kool-Aid, and GW would continue apace, then all our forests from Mexico to Yukon would burn up while the National Fire Command Center in Boise would just be an empty pile of concrete.

Fortunately, we would not be around cutting down trees to make two by fours, which releases scads of CO2. And, when trees burn in a wild fire, the carbon in the trees is harmlessly sequestered in the air. With us gone and still more GW, there would be lots more forest fires, just as there has been in the past before man arrived.

Now, I realize that by reporting I had read GW would continue without man around, I got dangerously close that slippery slope of not believing in the man-cause of GW. But, realizing my error, I have lurched back to the left of what I read; I really do have the religion, I do believe in it. See, its the extra heat, the BTUs generated by the forest fires. That heat would cause there to be more GW even after man retired from active duty and stopped emitting CO2.

How did that jingle go in MASH? "Cause suicide is painless,
It brings on many changes,
And I can take or leave it if I please."

Now, I know just what you're thinking. But seriously, China has 1.325 B people and we have 0.305 B. If us believers could reduce their numbers down to ours, they'd have no more need to fire up a new GigaWatt coal plant every week that we do now. That's true, isn't it?

RLL said...

Non scientists need to use observational scientific information differently than scientists. This is not an invalid was of thinking.

Floods in the Chehalis valley (including the Newaukum and Skookumchuck rivers have grown increasingly worse over the last forty years. We assume this trend will continue - whether we are global warming believers or deniers. We need to assume that floods worse than the last century and a half (almost) may occur every ten years.

Sunset Magazine and USDA have moved us one climate zone warmer in the last forty years. Once our typical low temp was 0-10 degrees, it is now 10-20 degrees. We did hit 9, but that is a quibble. This may or may not be connected with global warming, but it is significant to us.

I mentioned to an experienced climber we needed crampons on the Muhr snowfield, he was disbelieving. There are now major crevasses which is at least somewhat new, and the Cowlitz glacier is retreating. Maybe not significant, but interesting.

Bruce King said...

Kenna Wickman, I can't find an email address for you so I can't reply via email, so forgive me for being OT here. You can email me at bruceki@homeacresfarms.com

Snohomish county is the only one requiring these habitat studies, and all of them (5 completed so far) have shown "no take". From my point of view, the fees for each permit: $3,000 consultant fee, plus the $1,000 county "technology fee" plus the $300 county "flood hazard permit fee" and the work-week of my time is a tax for no purpose. It's a huge fine, a green fine, and is part of the green machine that is self-perpetuating. There is no improvement in water quality from any of this wasted money. You know how many pigs I have to sell to net $3300?

I have to spend a week of time and $3300 for no constructive purpose for me or society. Other than making the consultant and county happy.

Yes, it's the cost of doing business here in washington. It's a cost that I would not have in other states. This is the reason that western washingtons agriculture is moving elsewhere. It's such a pain in the ass to do business here sometimes.

At the next farmers market you attend ask the vendors where their farm is located. For the majority I'll bet you it's not in king county, and probably not in pierce or snohomish. And soon it won't be on this side of the mountains.

Bruce King / ebeyfarm.blogspot.com

Louise said...

This really clarified a number of issues for me. Thanks for addressing this issue.

JewelyaZ said...

You wanna see climate change insanity? Sarah Palin. http://www.seattlepi.com/connelly/413373_joel18.html?source=mypi

Bruce said...

Questions I have:

If the earth was warmer than today a thousand years ago and if the earth has been warmer than today for a significant part of the holocene (period following the last ice age), what reason is there to say we're experiencing catastrophic, let alone historic, warming now?

If the climate models cited by alarmists didn't predict the cooling of the past decade as Kevin Trenberth mentioned in a leaked emails, why should we believe their longer term forecasts are reliable?

If the proxies used by alarmists (Mann, Bradley, Hughes, Briffa) to guage temperatures over the last thousand years falsely predicted a temperature decline in recent decades, which had to be hidden as the CRU leaked emails show was done, doesn't that indicate the proxies aren't really good temperature measures?

Any commments?

Andrew said...

Thank you once again Cliff. A rational voice calling out in this wild and politicized rancor. There is a lot we know, but aknowleging that there are unknowns too shouldn't be considered blasphemous, or dangerous. Indeed, it could even be viewed with excitement (how can we work on finding the answers!).

Ailey said...

This has been a great discussion. Thanks Dr. Mass for your reasoned reporting and analysis on the subject.

As seems to always be the case, the real story is much more complex and nuanced than gets reported and covered in the mass media. As humans our default way of looking at issues, trends more towards dualistic either/or thinking and fuels so many fruitless debates.

It seems pretty clear to me, as we look at the amount of space taken up by landfills, deadzones in the ocean, bad air days, rapidly growing population, etc, that we are not living in a way that is sustainable.

So the warming of the globe cannot be completely chalked up to what we, as humans do? No matter. The question continues to be are we caring for this planet in a way that is sustainable and respectful of the life on it. Will we be able to leave it to future generations in a form and condition of which we would be proud to report to...say... a visitor from some as yet unknown but incredibly pristine, tho' highly populated, planet? At this moment I would have to say absolutely not!!

We need to do our best to do something REAL about that.

Brocksamson said...

Thanks Cliff, excellent post.

Ridhi Web Expert said...

How will the Climategate scandal effect how the US Congress proceeds with cap and trade legislation?
Thank-you
Silver MLM