Science is Hard

Your liberal media:

Both sides claim science. Will this article tell us if both sides have anything to back up their claims?

Any guesses?

Here’s the article’s examination of scientific evidence from those who believe in climate change:

The scientists themselves, when given the rare opportunity to speak, tried to steer clear of policy matters and stick to their scientific expertise. One witness, Christopher B. Field, director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, piqued the interest of members on both sides of the aisle by detailing new research on the adverse effects of rising temperatures on agriculture. Dr. Field said crops had certain temperature thresholds above which yields dropped sharply. For corn, he said, that temperature is 84 degrees, and a single day of 104 degrees causes a 7 percent drop in yield.

Dr. Field said that extreme warming could reduce crop yields by more than 60 percent. “This new information is quite striking,” he said. “Major food crops and cotton show little sensitivity to rising temperatures until you reach a threshold. That’s why people are generally not aware of these sensitivities.”

Here’s a partial list of Dr. Field’s recent work, here is but one example detailing the historic effects of precipitation and temperature on crop yields.

Here is how the NY Times article treats the “science” from the other side of the debate:

Representative Morgan Griffith of Virginia, a freshman Republican and an avowed skeptic on climate change, noted that ancient temperature records indicate periods of warming during the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations and again during the rise of the Vikings, and wanted the scientists to explain just how warm it got during those eras.

Mr. Griffith also wanted to know why the ice caps on Mars were melting and why he had been taught 40 years ago in middle school that Earth was entering a cooling period.

“What is the optimum temperature for man?” he asked. “Have we looked at that? These are questions that, believe it or not, I lay awake at night trying to figure out.”

The scientists promised to provide written answers.

That’s a list of nonsense that has already been dealt with and debunked a bazillion times- so many times that here is a complete resource for answering just those sorts of idiotic, mouth-breathing questions. John M. Broder could have found this list, and many others like it, if he had taken .16 second to go the great gizoogle:

But there you have it- both sides do it! Both sides claim to have science! Why should we tell you that one of them is full of shit? It’s not the job of a science writer in the Environment section of the NY Times to inform you…

We are doomed.

83 replies
  1. 1
    RossInDetroit says:

    They don’t really want answers. They just want to keep changing the questions so nothing ever gets done. And it works.

  2. 2
    mws says:

    “ice caps on Mars were melting”

    Because Mars is fucking tilted and has seasons just like Earth?

    My mother-in-law asks this of me. She doesn’t like my answer.

  3. 3
    KG says:

    For the record: I am not related to Rep. Morgan Griffith.

  4. 4
    gypsy howell says:

    Oy:David Broder is dead.

    Seeking bi-partisan consensus between God and Satan as to his eternal resting place, Broder has agreed to spend eternity in Purgatory.

  5. 5
    pragmatism says:

    usually, feelings are for hippies. but feelings on science trump science. ’cause shut up, that’s why.

  6. 6
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Believing in climate change makes Prosperity Baby Jesus cry.

    In other news, Gingrich is a serial adulterer because he loves America.

  7. 7
    S. cerevisiae says:

    Same old talking points, god I am sick of the same damn talking points. I just want to shake these denier idiots and scream “You fucking idiots, I want to be WRONG! Give me one bit of real science that shows the consensus on climate change is wrong. Please!”

    Doomed indeed.

  8. 8
    LarsThorwald says:

    David Broder dead at 81.

    Let us praise the man, but let us hope High Broderism goes with him.

  9. 9
    cleek says:

    let us speak no more of David Broder.

  10. 10
    soonergrunt says:

    DAVID BRODER DEAD.
    This “article” was written by John Broder.
    It seems that overly simplistic mendacity follows in families.

  11. 11
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    Politico reporting that David Broder is dead. Time for John to issue a scolding to the commentariat; only respectful comments until the body is cold.

  12. 12
    Poopyman says:

    @soonergrunt: Were it limited to a few families! Sadly, it’s much more prevalent than can be explained by genetics.

  13. 13
    gypsy howell says:

    @Shoemaker-Levy 9:

    only respectful comments until the body is cold

    That was probably several decades ago. Let the bipartisan barbs begin.

  14. 14
    Poopyman says:

    BTW, all of the good Broder lines were made in the last post. Don’t make everybody repeat them here.

  15. 15
    mclaren says:

    Experts differ earth’s shape: spherical vs. cubical.

    In other news, if evolution is true, why are there still apes? Why didn’t they all evolve into people?

  16. 16
    Alex S. says:

    Perfect timing..erm…

  17. 17
    MonkeyBoy says:

    If the Times said the denier’s claims were horseshit then there would be a mighty uprising among the hoodwinked mouthbreathers about the Times suppressing free speech, where somehow it is the Times’ obligation to publish anything anybody wants to believe. Maybe we can get them to give equal attention to the fact that the FSM controls global climate and is punishing humanity for creating gluten-free macaroni products.

  18. 18
    danimal says:

    The one thing that gives me hope is that the scientists were able to gain congressional attention to the effects of climate change on crop yields.

    Punching enviro-hippies is fun, but when the bottom line is threatened, the senators and representatives from ADM will pay attention.

  19. 19
    Bulworth says:

    So the science side had scientists and the other side has…

  20. 20
    beltane says:

    @gypsy howell: I believe the proper place for Broder is limbo, not purgatory. Purgatory is for people in need of a little correction before they go to heaven, limbo is forever, the eternal home for those souls who lacked the conviction to pick a side, any side.

  21. 21
    Svensker says:

    These are questions that believe it or not, I lay awake at night trying to figure out

    First they came for the grammar and I did nothing…

  22. 22
    LGRooney says:

    So, I got to the end of the Morgan Griffith section and thought, okay, now we get to the scientists on the right. I haven’t read the article yet but I am assuming you picked that paragraph for a reason. Are you fucking kidding me?

  23. 23
    MikeJ says:

    @Bulworth: Griffith was a drunk driving lawyer before he was elected.

  24. 24
    Rpx says:

    …ancient temperature records indicate periods of warming during the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations and again during the rise of the Vikings

    So government policy will be set based on what this guy saw on The History Channel between Pawn Stars and Ancient Aliens?

  25. 25
    Poopyman says:

    @danimal:

    Punching enviro-hippies is fun, but when the bottom line is threatened, the senators and representatives from ADM will pay attention.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that ADM is very plugged into the science of global warming, because mucho mucho money is riding on how they prepare for it.

    Without looking* I predict that ADM is funding lots of research on developing a genetically modified heat-tolerant strain of corn.

    *– Not that it would be public knowledge anyway.

  26. 26
    gypsy howell says:

    @beltane:

    Thank you for that correction. Limbo it is, then.

  27. 27
    4tehlulz says:

    Climate-change deniers are the worst winners in the world.

  28. 28
    mws says:

    Speak no ill of the dead? Seriously? But that’s the best time to do it!!

  29. 29
    jibeaux says:

    @danimal:

    I see a future for corn, soy and wheat genetically modified to withstand heat…

  30. 30
    ppcli says:

    “What is the optimum temperature for man?” he asked. “Have we looked at that? These are questions that, believe it or not, I lay awake at night trying to figure out.”

    Hmmmm…. is any of his election literature titled “To Serve Man”? We’d better check the fine print.

  31. 31
    Marlowe says:

    I think Broder is giving the “science” of the denialists short shrift, no?

    In any case, Griffith’s idiocy is not presented as one “side” of the science. It was in fact the “two scientific witnesses” Republicans dragged up — one even admitting the rise in global surface temperatures and the other one making an idiotic argument about DDT.

    The Times has been guilty been of false equivalences in climate reportage before, but this isn’t a case of it. And it’s true that both sides claim science, but Broder obviously thinks the denialists are full of shit.

  32. 32
    Bulworth says:

    @Poopyman: But the Matt Damon-ADM dude’s distracted inner monologue in The Informant! was pretty funny.

  33. 33
    pragmatism says:

    @mws: is that like how the best time to add insult to injury is when you’re signing a cast?

  34. 34
    LGRooney says:

    @Poopyman: My thoughts exactly. Someone is paying the GOP representation well to be so fucking stupid! Someone wants us to burn up because they’re cooking up the future in their labs – then thoughts of Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World and We ran through my head.

  35. 35
    gypsy howell says:

    “What is the optimum temperature for man?” he asked.

    130º
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Medium rare.

  36. 36
    danimal says:

    @Poopyman: @jibeaux: I wish I had a retort to your cynicism. Y’all are probably right, rather than address climate change, they’ll just find ways to mitigate the effects of heat on crops and let the earth bake.

    Anyone in the market for Hudson Bay agricultural properties?

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    In related news about wingtard “scientists”, Art Robinson cranks up the crazy.

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    John Broder’s an established hack.

  39. 39
    Citizen_X says:

    Mr. Griffith also wanted to know why the ice caps on Mars were melting

    Because it’s really the southern Mars ice cap that’s melting, due to inherent instability, and besides, Mars’ climate is much more responsive to things like global dust storms, as well as having completely different orbital dynamics?

    and why he had been taught 40 years ago in middle school that Earth was entering a cooling period.

    Because either a) your teacher was full of shit, or b) you are?

  40. 40
    El Cid says:

    __

    “What is the optimum temperature for man?” he asked. “Have we looked at that? These are questions that, believe it or not, I lay awake at night trying to figure out.”

    Momentarily putting aside the volumes of single-pane editorial comics which could be drawn from this…

    …it is just a wonderful example of the idiocy of our public discourse that a question like “What is the optimum temperature for man?” is treated like serious policy discussion rather than a discussion overheard from the corner of a bar.

    There is the shocking ignorance of asking about an “optimum temperature” for humans (why, it’s 70 degrees F exactly, pardner! committee closed!).

    There is the suggestion that the debate is on where to plant humans with what amount of sunlight and what amount of water and at what time of year to get optimal blooms or fruit or whatever.

    And there is of course the continual game that increased planetary energy budgets would have to mean that all life will die.

    What’s the optimum area Americans need in order to continue to live? Why don’t we shrink the American territory to three or four states, since most states have huge areas with low population density.

    What’s the optimum color?

  41. 41
    Meg says:

    These people have been doing this for decades, using the “fairness doctrine” from broadcast to force media to report “both sides of the stories”. They have won many a battle using the same tactics.
    I am currently reading the book “Merchants of Doubt”, which is telling stories about businesses used “science” to fight regulations and is quite an eye opener for me.
    I think it is quite important for all of us to read it to help understand these people’s tricks and learn how to fight them.

  42. 42
    Culture of Truth says:

    At House Hearing, One Side Tells Truth
    .

  43. 43
    trollhattan says:

    Also, too, about that “Co2 is plant food!” meme:

    http://www.laboratoryequipment.....30411.aspx

  44. 44
    Tonal Crow says:

    I love how deniers speak so confidently about temperature trends on other planets — for which we have extremely sketchy observations — while simultaneously denying that we know anything at all about earth’s temperature trends.

    Can we deport these people to South Waziristan yet?

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Meg:

    FUD is a classic technique for generating sales.

    Microsoft borrowed it from IBM, who borrowed it from someone else.

  46. 46
    RSA says:

    Mr. Griffith also wanted to know why the ice caps on Mars were melting and why he had been taught 40 years ago in middle school that Earth was entering a cooling period.

    Mr. Griffith also wanted to know why some other things he learned as a 12-year-old, 40 years ago, were also not true. X-ray glasses, for example. How do they work?

  47. 47
    MikeJ says:

    @Meg: Huh? There’s been no fairness doctrine for almost 30 years.

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @RSA:

    It’s the 21st Century. Where the hell is my fucking flying car?

  49. 49
    Svensker says:

    @El Cid:

    What’s the optimum color?

    If you don’t know, I’m not telling you.

  50. 50
    jrg says:

    “What is the optimum temperature for man?” he asked. “Have we looked at that? These are questions that, believe it or not, I lay awake at night trying to figure out.”

    That’s rich. What’s the price of tea in China? If atoms are like tiny little solar systems, do little people live in my fingernail? How can we ever understand mankind without understanding “mank” or “ind”?

    Hell, why don’t we stop funding science altogether, and just pay a bunch of information-deprived hicks to pontificate on the mysteries of the fucking universe?

  51. 51
    Voncey says:

    @Citizen_X: Forty years ago, when I was in 4th grade, my teacher insisted the South Pole was warm because, you know, it was in the South.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jrg:

    Hell, why don’t we stop funding science altogether, and just pay a bunch of information-deprived hicks to pontificate on the mysteries of the fucking universe?

    Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh are standing by to fulfill this request!

  53. 53
    trollhattan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Why do you hate the South Waziristanis?

  54. 54
    trollhattan says:

    @RSA:

    Shouldn’t a testifying scientist be allowed, during such thunderously stupid questioning, to dangle a shiny object in their face in lieu of answering?

  55. 55

    The way that headline reads, it reminds me of the South Park episode where Science becomes an abstract replacement deity and not a foundation of knowledge built upon rational observation.

    Science, damn it!

  56. 56
    Stefan says:

    “What is the optimum temperature for man?” he asked. “Have we looked at that?.”

    72 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light, balmy offshore breeze.

  57. 57
    ppcli says:

    Mr. Griffith also wanted to know why… he had been taught 40 years ago in middle school that Earth was entering a cooling period.

    Oh, oh, oh, oh, I know, I know! Pick me, pick me!…

    Because whoever taught you was a credulous, ignorant fool who believed whatever they read in a poorly researched nontechnical popular book and some lazy magazine articles that regurgitated it.

    See, that was easy. I expect that Griffiths will stop asking that question now….

  58. 58
    gnomedad says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    In other news, Gingrich is a serial adulterer because he loves America.

    Dang, how come Bubba never thought of that one?

  59. 59

    This is probably a minor quibble in the larger scheme of things, but I hate the use of the word “believe” when it comes to scientific matters. I don’t believe in evolution and I don’t believe in climate change. I understand them to some degree, but belief doesn’t play a part in it. Belief generally requires some sort of faith, and not even religious faith–I can believe my students understand the essays we talk about in class before I talk to them and discover they don’t, for example. But climate change is happening whether we believe in it or not.

  60. 60
    Judas Escargot (aka ninja fetus with a taste for bruschetta) says:

    @Citizen_X:

    To be fair, I do remember hearing that back in the 1970s, and there was at least some support for the idea.

    But, um…so what? That was 30-40 years ago. A long, long time in science/tech.

    Never understood the “you said something differentz in the past!!1!” attack from the rightwingers. Science changes over time, and that’s a feature, not a bug.

  61. 61
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Why isn’t Greenland green?
    Why is the sky blue?
    I lie awake at nigh pondering these questions.

  62. 62
    justawriter says:

    @RSA: Some things will never be explained.

  63. 63
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    @ppcli: because you weren’t taught that 40 years ago, would not have remembered that even if you had been, and are a big fat liar.

  64. 64
    S. cerevisiae says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Robinson called OSU a “liberal socialist Democrat stronghold.”

    Cool! I knew there was a good reason I picked it for grad school.

    Robinson is living proof that being batshit insane is not always a detriment to getting a PhD.

  65. 65
    nancydarling says:

    I’m about ready to give up. Between BS like this and the stuff that the god-botherers do every day in the Arkansas State House, it seems like the scales are tipped against rational humans. Did any one see Rachel’s segment with Naomi Klein last night? I just caught it and I think things are as rotten in Michigan as they are in Wisconsin.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#41979558

  66. 66
    mds says:

    @jrg:

    Hell, why don’t we stop funding science altogether, and just pay a bunch of information-deprived hicks to pontificate on the mysteries of the fucking universe?

    Speaking of the House budget plan …

  67. 67
    Citizen_X says:

    @Judas Escargot (aka ninja fetus with a taste for bruschetta): Milankovitch cycles are still considered a valid idea. However, here is a peer-reviewed paper (pdf link) that looks at the “global cooling” idea of the 70’s, in both the scientific literature and the popular press. There was absolutely no hint of a scientific consensus–popularly believed or otherwise–that we were headed towards global cooling, despite the myth.

    (And that may not have been exactly what you were arguing, but I did want to get that source out there. Their results show that it’s not even close.)

  68. 68
    DKF says:

    The late, great, famously boneheaded Republican Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska once suggested, with reference to the failed nomination of G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court, that even mediocre people “are entitled to a little representation” by being elevated to the highest levels of government. Now this venerable Republican principle has been extended to embrace complete fucking imbeciles.

  69. 69
  70. 70
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Judas Escargot (aka ninja fetus with a taste for bruschetta): The idea of a glaciation within some thousands of years was mentioned as a possibility in a few papers in the 1970s, based mostly upon the idea that our then-increasing emissions of chemicals (primarily sulfates) that create reflective aerosols would cool the climate more than our emissions of CO2 would heat it.

    However, even at that time, the great majority of papers postulated that the effects of greenhouse emissions would outstrip those of reflective aerosols. Guess what? They were right.

    See, e.g., http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/ for more.

    Why do Republicans hate science?

  71. 71
    Svensker says:

    @Citizen_X:

    However, here is a peer-reviewed paper (pdf link) that looks at the “global cooling” idea of the 70’s, in both the scientific literature and the popular press.

    I’m sorry, that paper was written by scientists and we all know they have the Leftist Agenda at the forefront, always. What does Rush have to say about it? He knows all that needs to be known about climate science.

  72. 72
    Jahill10 says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus): Not a minor quibble at all. We should point this out every time expresses a “belief” or a “disbelief” in science. They are trying to make science tantamount to religion and it isn’t. You can reject global climate change and the theory of evolution, but that just means you are proclaiming you don’t care about how the world actually works; it doesn’t mean you get to make believe your own set of facts. Go ahead, aspire to the intellect of a medieval serf, but you don’t get your own “science.”

  73. 73
    burnspbesq says:

    @John Cole:

    ” John M. Broder could have found this list, and many others like it, if he had taken .16 second to go the great gizoogle:”

    So?

    Broder’s job was to cover the hearing and report accurately on what happened. He did that. It’s someone else’s job to say that the “science” on which the climate denialists and skeptics rely is about as good as the “science” that the townspeople relied on to determine that Carol Cleveland was a witch in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

  74. 74
    Tonal Crow says:

    @burnspbesq: So the media reporting upon a meeting of Holocaust deniers should simply quote portions of what the deniers chose to say, quote similar-length portions of an interview with a Holocaust survivor or historian, and express no view on which “side” is correct?

  75. 75
    El Cid says:

    @Tonal Crow: Not only that, but to the extent that aerosols have contributed to recent changes in the planetary energy budget, it has been to slow the rate of the slowing of Earth’s cooling emissions of longwave IR photons.

    So, yes, a degree of the phenomena existed, and those mocking it should be thankful — as the effect had mitigated net heat increases.

    And then we got better at controlling aerosol pollutions. And the helpful albedo effect then reduced again.

  76. 76
    Redshirt says:

    35 years ago I got kicked out of class for insisting that whales were mammals, whereas my 70 year old teacher insisted they were fish.

    Why did the science lie to me?!q

  77. 77
    Nick says:

    Of course, this isn’t the fault of the media at all, it’s “messaging”

    right Nobody?

  78. 78
    Tonal Crow says:

    @El Cid:

    @Tonal Crow: Not only that, but to the extent that aerosols have contributed to recent changes in the planetary energy budget, it has been to slow the rate of the slowing of Earth’s cooling emissions of longwave IR photons.

    More precisely, the aerosols have increased earth’s reflectivity (“albedo”), thus reducing the proportion of incoming shortwave radiation that the earth absorbs (and then re-emits as longwave IR). You got it right below, when you said, “And then we got better at controlling aerosol pollutions. And the helpful albedo effect then reduced again.”

    So, yes, a degree of the phenomena existed, and those mocking it should be thankful—as the effect had mitigated net heat increases.

    Yes indeed. As has the effect of a slight decline in total solar output since ~1960, which might also be coming to an end.

  79. 79
    Chemist says:

    I’m curious how many scientists (any discipline counts!) read and/or post on BJ. It seems like there must be quite a few. Show of hands?

  80. 80
    cokane says:

    excellent example of stenographer journalism

  81. 81
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Chemist: I was a Physics undergrad, and then got grad degrees in aerospace engineering. It gets called “rocket science”, but it isn’t science, really. So call me an engineering professional and a science fanboy.

  82. 82
    gastropoda says:

    And in the print edition of the NYT, just a couple of pages beyond that jaw-dropping lunacy, readers found the story of the NPR scandale including this graf:

    At another point in the secretly recorded video, Mr. Schiller criticizes an “anti-intellectual move on the part of a significant part of the Republican Party” and says the pursuit of knowledge is “traditionally something that Democrats have funded and Republicans have not funded.”

    So he tells the truth and loses his job. And America drowns in the stupid.

  83. 83

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