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Mudede is the house. He can't stop the game and if it goes on like this, he's going to lose everything. "That roll was because of the loaded dice! And that one! And that one! They're all because of the loaded dice!" Wrong.
Mass is a statistics researcher. He rationally knows that the loading makes it more likely that any given roll will come up against the house, but sees it as his job to provide balance to Mudede by emphasizing the uncertainty. Wrong.
Every extreme weather event isn't due to climate change. In fact, we can't prove that any single event is due to climate change. Any suggestion to the contrary ignores the basics of climate science (and of probability). But that doesn't make it the job of scientists to provide "balance". The job of scientists is to say exactly what we know and what we don't know, no more and no less. Anything beyond that is advocacy—which is fine, but it's not science and shouldn't be represented as such.
Let us be very clear about this, about what is Charles' cart, and what is his horse.
For example, that pine tree: it expired after several astoundingly hot and dry summers in Seattle. Nobody's proved that those summers are *not* the result of climate change (in fact, doing so would be basically impossible), yet Mass confidently struts around saying that climate change could not have been the cause. In reality, we *don't know for sure* if it was the cause or not. *Both* the statement that it was climate change *and* the one that it was not are not supported by scientific evidence.
Mass's claims that the left sank the carbon tax are pure bullshit. A quick look at the election results will show that the support came from the more left-leaning parts of the state and the opposition from the more right-leaning parts of it. And that's for a measure that bent over backwards in its attempt to be bipartisan!
On the other hand, Mudede's love for authoritarianism creeps me out. I think it's completely possible for a carbon tax to prompt widespread behavior change, and am not a big fan of centralized state planning (or a centralized state at all). And people *do* respond to economic incentives.
A pox on both their houses.
Jesus. And you wonder how we got where we are.
Mudede seems to forget history halfway through the interview when they're talking about the indoor smoking ban, it was passed as an initiative not as a government fiat, https://ballotpedia.org/Washington_Smoki…
But it really shows you where he stands as a "journalist:" Lying is OK if you think it is for a greater good!
It's idiots like you who've gotten us to where we are.
He's right: we don't have time for scepticism in the political sphere, and that's what Dr Mass is contributing to, no matter how well-intentioned and fact-based his writings.
I hear Dr Mass' insistence on communicating his scepticism (not the scepticism itself, yay science!, but his insistence on communicating it to laypeople, i.e. in the polis, aka the political sphere) as what's become known as concern trolling.
It really can sow doubt among those with fewer reading comprehension skills (or less time to read, bc three kids and two jobs, or an anti-education bias, or, or, or...) who then become prey for those politicians with a libertarian ideological agenda, and/or who are committed to the status quo ante.
I think he's too much the scientist to see this happening.
The tree story is particularly illuminating: Dr Mass is arguing over trees, when the forest is on fire.
We have to stop the bleeding. NOW. Charles is writing like a first responder; Dr Mass is writing like a research scientist with all the time in the world.
"These are good points. It seems that Mass' primary complaint about Mudede is that he thinks that while it may be useful to mislead people during a crisis if, in the end, you turn out to have been correct, what's the harm? Why does he do that? And what is the impact of someone with his stature and audience doing that all the time? Seems he is fairly tone deaf to the impact his words have. He is a writer at a ridiculous Seattle rag, fine. He is also a SLOG personality. He thinks he is doing his duty as journalist in spreading falsehoods or misleading people about what's actually going on (and belittling and insulting those who dare disagree or stop to say; "you, know that's not quite right"). What about his duty as a journalist one with an ant sized influence on public opinion?"
Do any of you understand how this will affect your day-to-day lives? Here, in Seattle, one of the most liberal cities in the US, most people can't be bothered to recycle, drive less, drive a smaller car, let alone cease travel, become vegetarian, stop buying endless amounts of junk. People aren't willing to make the necessary changes. The sky IS falling and no one can be bothered to lift a finger. But let's keep railing against trump because it makes us feel better.
Didn't read the transcript, eh Will?
For what it's worth I think both Mass and Mudede are kind of both off, or at least muddled about the necessity/feasibility of changing people's habits. Fairly obvious that a handful of lefties who live in coastal enclaves biking to work is not going to mean shit in terms of addressing climate change. To get an adequate number of people to change their habits they need to be forced to by making it more difficult and expensive to do what they are accustomed to doing. Mass seems to like to harp on how people's habits are not going to change. True enough, if they are merely asked nicely to change their habits. But apparently he supports a carbon tax which is primarily about changing habits by making it more expensive to say fly or run air conditioners.
I think history has proven him pretty correct when it comes to the idea that people are not going to suffer economically for environmental benefits that are likely to occur after their lifetimes. It is sad, but people just did not evolve that way, and are not going to act or think that way in large numbers.
Any plan which does not take human nature into account is a bad plan.
Instead, he's claiming the tax will encourage new clean technologies so that we can sustain cars and sprawl into infinity. What mechanism allows this, in the absence of behavior change is... unclear.
So to me, I think Mass is recognizing that save catastrophic events that prod mass intervention, these two factors are fixed obstacles that we have to take in account and not come up with strategies that rely on these things going away.
Mudede: No. Actually, I commend the mayors for doing that because the—
Mass: But it was false.
Mudede: Because if they were right, what a catastrophe. If they are wrong, the snow came back, so what was lost? What was lost?
Did you see that? Mudede admits he doesn't care if something is true or not. In fact, he commends those who set policy irrespective of the truth of the matter. Only the outcome matters.
Same as it ever was.
Oh, and you're literally Hitler, not to mention deplorable, for even saying that.
Anyone's statements over 90 minutes can seem a little inconsistent, and yours are no exception. You dismiss "social engineering" to change people's behavior, and want to persuade people to address this problem... with more funding for research and technology.
Technology is absolutely part of the solution, but there has to be behavior change as well. Cars, even if electric, lead to sprawl, which has very bad climate impacts independent of energy technology. Technology is not going to substantially change the impact of meat, or air travel.
For the record, I donated to the I-732 campaign and wrote columns in support of it... but both you and Mudede are guilty of using the rhetoric of reaction for whatever remedies you don't like. In fact, every little bit helps: a change that gets us from 4.0 degrees to 3.9 doesn't "solve the problem," but it is a better world. And lots of incremental improvements can make very substantial improvements.
Moreover, "social engineering" works; it has worked to create modern America, as Charles points out, through advertising, zoning laws, and enormous highway subsidies. It is equally possible to change behavior through public information campaigns attacking car use and low-density zoning, financial incentives to choose otherwise, etc.
The two of you are arguing either/or for your climate solutions, when the correct answer is yes/and:
- Public education campaigns to explain to people how their actions hurt the environment;
- Taxes to discourage carbon-intensive behavior, and removal of subsidies for it
- International agreements like Paris
- Local action
- Subsidies and investment in new technologies to reduce carbon intensiveness where possible
- Destroying the reputation of fossil fuel companies in the same way as cigarette companies
And even all of this stuff will not "solve" the problem. But it will make things substantially better as they might already be.
It's noble to try to go out and persuade Red America about climate change, but if Mudede has failed you certainly have as well. I-732 lost in every county but King, so it's hard to blame "the left" for its failure. I support you for reaching out, but Charles Mudede is useful for you as a foil, not a saboteur of your efforts/
Once you make the debate about individual events, you lose. Yeah, that tree in the Arboretum died. But most of the trees are fine. Are you sure you want to start counting trees to determine whether climate change is happening?
Is it ethical? Yes.
It is not only ethical it is incumbent on those who wish to know and act on the truth to say that we cannot be sure that "an individual smoker's lung cancer..." is due to smoking because it's fucking true. Acknowledging that not every cancer is due to smoking and that not everyone who smokes will get cancer isn't ethically wrong; it's reality. What you need to do is figure out what to do about it. If you can prevent people from getting cancer by advocating that they don't smoke and you support programs and policies to help those who get cancer, your best strategy - at every single stage- is to not fucking lie about it.
In general, I am really sick and tired of hearing progressives lob personal attacks at Cliff Mass whenever they don't agree with him. It's lazy. If you think Cliff Mass is wrong, beat him with another set of facts and policy proposals. Welcome the debate, don't silence it.
I appreciate that Cliff will speak his mind when he knows it will be unpopular. Regardless of whether he is right or wrong on any particular topic, diversity of opinion is essential for democracy.
Also, bringing up totalitarian regimes was a real GOP kind of move, too - so much so that it make me question his political leanings. Mudede was right to point him back to seat belts and cigarettes. The federal government has a huge capacity to encourage or discourage behaviors through laws, taxes, education, and incentives.
Cliff @25: I'd be interested to read your response to the point made by @14. How are your comments not comparable to a TV doctor pointing out at every opportunity that we can't be *sure* that an individual smoker's lung cancer was due to their smoking. True? Yes. Ethical...?
Patrick. It is not comparable. The warnings about smoking were based on statistical evidence based on a large number of smokers. One cancer proves nothing, but the statistical evidence of a connection was undeniable and society took action. To deal with climate change, you either need strong statistical evidence of an effect or you believe the models.
@32 I've leave to to Cliff to respond, but as for my two cents, if folks like Cliff start to point to isolated incidents as indicia of anthropogenic climate change, then that gives support to the flip side of that approach. It's no different than, say, Ted Cruz claiming "global warming" can't be happening because it snowed in some place that rarely sees snow.
Once you make the debate about individual events, you lose. Yeah, that tree in the Arboretum died. But most of the trees are fine. Are you sure you want to start counting trees to determine whether climate change is happening?
You misunderstand my position... I am NOT saying individual events are indications of climate change. Mudede and friends are doing this and it is intellectually dishonest..cliff
Anyway, there's a difference between disingenuously claiming that an individual case is linked to a broader trend (not what I'm advocating) versus keeping the focus on the big picture (which is what I'm advocating). But Dr. Mass's expertise is in the small picture of meteorology, not the big picture of climatology so perhaps this all should not be too surprising. However it does beg the question of why he's wading into climatology at all when talking about individual weather events. There will never be a smoking gun at that scale. What's the point?
Just so, when Dr. Mass says; "although we know the climate is warming, we may not be able to prove any single event is due to warming", he is being unethical? The "WOW dude" should be reserved for those who think lying -for any reason- is an appropriate response to a crisis.
Thanks for wading in to the comments section, by the way. I think everyone here can appreciate the fact that you are willing to discuss and expand on your comments, even if they don't agree with your position.
That is exactly where we are at with respect to global warming. For recent peer reviewed science on the subject, see the just published (by the National Academies) "Review of the Draft Climate Science Special Report" as part of the forthcoming Fourth National Climate Assessment (due in 2018). Available here. Anyone with an interest in how climate science is done would benefit from reading some of this document.
Mudede does not respond directly to Mass's inaccurate statements regarding the best available climate science. But anyone who fairly reviews the relevant literature such as referenced above will agree with Mudede's position that Mass is "dangerous" in that he peddles a "soft" form of climate denial. Aside from his naive notion that we're going to achieve consensus on action with right wing reactionaries who peddle the hard form of denial. If Mass thinks we're going to come to some sort of agreement on a carbon tax with people like this he's smoking some of Seattle's finest.
As far as how to respond to the problem (policy, politics, lifestyles), Mass acknowledges that "It takes energy to live like we live." True enough, and it's the burning of fossil fuel energy that is driving global warming. But later Mass makes that claim that "If we can use solar and wind power, and it doesn't cost any more, maybe even costs less—they might be willing to make investments in that if they're educated about the technologies and about the threat." Mass is wrong; technology is not going to save us by producing some magic, non-GHG form of energy to sustain our current wasteful (and overpopulated) lifestyle. On this point Mudede is absolutely correct; we are in for a huge reduction in energy flow one way or another. The literature is full of analyses of the impending major decline in available net energy to maintain our global society's economic metabolism.
A few sources for those wishing to dig deep: Murphy 2014; Brown et al. 2011; Brown et al. 2013; Malhi 2014; Worster 2016.
You conspicuously avoid my point, Dr. Mass. The analogy is not a conversation between an individual doctor and their patient; it's a conversation between a talking head like yourself and the public. Small picture versus big picture. Individual treatment versus public health. Meteorology versus climatology. Of course not all lung cancers are caused by smoking but most of them are. That's the information that the public needs to know to take the actions most likely to preserve their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Of course it's correct to acknowledge that individual cases can't be linked to the broader trend but it is not responsible from a public health perspective to go on the airwaves and make smoking/lung cancer skepticism your primary talking point when discussing this subject.
You have every right to say what you want to say, Dr. Mass, but if we're all soldiers in the army of truth then I challenge you to qualify each of your climatological speculations about individual weather events with the caveat that it's impossible to know whether any individual event can be attributed to climate change, and that climate data overwhelmingly indicates a warming globe with severe worldwide social and ecological consequences if it is not checked.
So please tell us: what is your expertise in energy matters to predict "there will be plenty to support the human population"? Your reliance on "technological developments" without any supporting evidence is pretty much a cornucopian fantasy. Fan of Julian Simon, are you?
First, he confuses the inability to pin a specific event on climate change with the inability to pin an increase in a certain type of event on climate change. We can't say "that hurricane was caused/made worse by climate change." But we can say that there are more and stronger hurricanes due to climate change. A specific hot day or heat wave can't, but an overall trend of warmer days and more intense heatwaves can. Etc.
Second, he falls for the weatherman weather vs climate confusion (interestingly, while simultaneously accusing other people of the same thing). He criticizes people for raising the alarm about decreases in snow-pack based on the fact that it was only for a few years and it bounced back. Except that it has only briefly bounced back--which means that either the drop or the rebound could be the blip. The problem is that the best science predicts a decline in PNW snowpack. So it is actually Mass that is ignoring the science and potentially placing too much weight on a small sample.
People could quit breeding so goddamn much, and society could stop subsidizing it.
While the 97% of the scientists who work in the same field as Dr. Mass and do similar research and afterwards conclude when publishing that something needs to be done, all Dr. Mass has to do is emphasize the doubt that is part of any research and the money to be part of the 3% is his. And there is a lot of money in promulgating the doubt. The division of funding in no way reflects the division of the results.
The argument over the tree in the arboretum is classic. Dr. Mass can no more say that global warming killed or didn't kill the tree. But if he wants the easy research money to keep flowing, he simply emphasizes that he can not say that climate change killed the tree. However, when he says climate change did not kill the tree, he ceases to become a scientist and is simply a shill for whoever pays him or simply demonstrating his dislike of the active 'left'. A real scientist would say it can neither be proven or disproven (and then ask for more funding). When he emphasizes that science can't confirm that global warming did kill the tree, he assists the denialists who use this to further their agenda. Dr. Mass then gets a warm feeling as Rush Limbaugh rims him while Anne Coulter coddles his balls.
It is of course easier to accept denial money, there are honest researchers who wouldn't touch funding from the American Petroleum Institute or similar. Dr. Mass simply wants their money. That he is abetting what many see as the greatest failure and crime of man- and womankind doesn't really seem to bother him. That he is an insufferable twist is obvious. But his lack of concern for those in the world who are already starting to feel the effects of climate change is remarkable. You drive a Prius. Great, as a prize we will send you the inhabitants of a underwater village in Bangladesh.
An analogy: If you are in a theater and you smell smoke, you don't wait for Dr. Mass to start the experiment to determine if said smoke is actually caused by a fire and could conceivably cause harm to those in the theater, you simply do something.
An easy way to bury people like Dr. Mass is to go through their work. The 3% are pretty bad researchers. Most of their papers are flawed and/or reviewed by the small incestuous circle. And follow the money. Who funds his research?
Furthermore: Social engineering doesn't work? Hello, marketing. The experiment to get Americans fat and have them drive everywhere in cars, that has been doing on for say 50 years? How's that one going?
Bravo, Charles, you perfectly caricatured everything that sucks about the orthodox left.
Sanders: What's wrong with that?"
Because it would be lying? Because It would be dishonest?
Whatever happened to "the fact based discourse" Sanders grilled Mass on at the beginning of the debate? It went right out the window the moment when facts, otherwise known as the truth, contradicted his ideology.
People aren't as dumb as Sanders and Mudede think. They see through all the lies, hype, and exaggeration. This severely undermines their arguments, even when they make good ones! This is why people have such little trust in the media these days, they've been proven liars time and time again; and here Sanders tips his hand and admits it! Is it arrogance or shear incompetence?
That said (and my comments are based on much more exposure to the good scientist's views than captured here), Mudede lost this debate.
His need for attention is so great that he shared one of his climate change denial blogposts with the folks at the climate change denying Watts Up With That:
where he did just what Mudede says he does, gets very agitated with those who are discussing the reality of climate change while never thinking of going after those who are minimizing or denying the reality and impacts of climate change with misinformation.
Mass has the right to disagree with the conclusions in the paper but he never published a peer-reviewed paper refuting the work - which would have made him actually do something a real scientist would do. Instead he passed his blogpost onto a major climate denier blog - demonstrating both his need for attention and lack of scientific credibility.
and the original post by Mass
To see how Mass provided meat to the deniers try googling "cliff mass hansen pnas" and checking out the resulting links. Powerline says Mass provided a "savage beatdown on the latest global warming scaremongering from NASA’s egregious James Hansen about recent summer heat waves".
A post on Skeptical Science: https://skepticalscience.com/hansens-new… points out that Mass misses the main point of Hansen et al. in that heat waves will occur more frequently and on average be more intense than they would be without human-caused global warming.
Comments on Skeptical Science detail how Mass erred in his analysis and demonstrate the problems of having a local weatherman try to refute the conclusions of James Hansen, a planetary climatologist.
Both of them do not recognize that industrial processes, not individual choices, are both the largest generators of CO2 and the factor that eclipses social engineering. It is business engineering... It is not the cars we drive as much as the fuel that powers them. It's not that we like to be warm/cool and comfortable and use our gadgets, and get places, but the source of energy used to power them. As long as coal and oil is being used for these things, we will not be able to mitigate the damage, and it will continue to get worse.
This country has only recently leveled off it's emissions, but it's not enough. Because it was not in the interest of business previously. And business is the primary constituency of both parties now. It's true that we are making progress, but it took 40 years to even get this far, fighting tooth and nail, and it now needs to be accelerated. And Government is the only way to do it. Charles is right about that. It can be done without totalitarian actions. A carbon tax is one way to accelerate this. Corporate interests might call it totalitarian, but businesses exist for the benefit of the country--the country does not exist for the benefit of corporations. At least that is still the theory behind our existence...
Yes, the opportunity was blown to keep the temperature rise at 2 degrees, probably a decade ago already. How much more it rises above that is primarily dependant on what we do right now. I fail to see how those GOP and some Dems who claim they will defend climate research will matter if policy is not informed by it, rather than at best, conceding that it exists, but then lamely stating "we don't know how much is caused by humans."
In the sense of needing to transition, Charles is right that it should be acknowledged as a crisis. In the sense that Cliff wants bipartisanship, just because it is not a crisis today, does not mean what comparatively little we are actually doing today in the areas that count justifies confidence we can avoid a crisis in the future. He knows how long CO2 hangs in the atmosphere. And Cliff should be reminded that the only reason we are even this far today, is via government subsidies, not Corporate initiative.
Mass is wrong; legal mandates aren't totalitarianism if a society agrees to sacrifice certain things, in this case, an infrastructure of daily life that creates too much waste. For example, there is no reason the united states government couldn't have mandated that all plastics be made biodegradable in the 1960s. That would have prevented enormous harm. Similarly, controls on CO2 should have been adopted as early as 1989 when the government's own experts concluded the existential threat was upon us.
Mudede is wrong in that he imagines it is possible to persuade the public, because, I believe, the public is simply incapable of sacrifice (let alone persuasion). Modern people are simply unfamiliar with the concept. Polemics and the rather pathetic knowledge of logic and general state of philosophy in the body politic ensure that any effort here will be futile.
Mass suggests we exploit this complete absence of a sense of responsibility or ability to sacrifice in the body politic by replacing electric motors for gasoline engines. The problem is, Mass discounts the probability that any gains in efficiency will be outstripped by increasing marginal use (Jevon's Paradox). That is, when energy costs approach zero there is no upper limit to the size and range of an SUV. As efficiency increases so will rate of use. Humanity will leverage any advantage to degrade whatever is left of any value.
Mass believes in a technological solution- which is morally appalling position. To my mind, there is no good reason a society which has done so much harm with technology will be able to reverse this dynamic. The faith in geoengineering is close to a psychotic delusion given what is known about the 2nd law of thermodynamics. We are creating objectively unsolvable problems and the process is cheered on by pure optimist rhetoric designed to appeal to the most ignorant and irresponsible audience, which is to say, most of it, with the soporific claim that, because reality is too unpleasant, only supplication is possible for these dim-witted, egotistical morons- the stupidity is believing that this will somehow work.
Without debate, we are going to drop our massive problems in the lap of some future person(s) which happens to be the most massive technological challenge the world has ever known, and if they fail we all die. This is pure fallacy- I like to call it the Fallacy of Child Genius Come To Save Us All- a favorite delusion of the baby boom generation. These wonderful kids will invent something, despite how evil and how diabolic the proposition. Nevermind our cultural engineering to degrade and destroy the minds of the young at the same time.