carbon dioxide as laughing gas


The Wall Street Journal is well-known for its troglodyte-level editorial page. I didn’t realize how far down the scale of evolution it was, however, until I ran across today’s opinion piece on global warming while paging through the newspaper in the lunch room at work. It was a letter signed by “16 concerned scientists” explaining why we really don’t need to worry much about carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

At first I was willing to believe that maybe the WSG could dig up 16 climate scientists who held this view. Maybe if they looked really hard. I immediately went to the list of authors and found that no; they couldn’t come up with even 16 climate scientists. They found a highly educated weather forecast journalist, a head of a biochemical lab, a member of the Academy of Engineering and the NAS (formerly with Exxon), a physics professor, a technology professor, a chemistry professor, an astronaut (now there’s a climate expert), and rocket designer Burt Rutan (getting increasingly desperate here). And two, that’s right, two people who could fit the role of climate scientist.    

I’m not kidding. Here’s the link. Don’t they realize that they’re sort of shooting themselves in the foot when they do this? Or does the average WSG reader just want a belief-reinforcement hit without any brain engagement at all?


7 thoughts on “carbon dioxide as laughing gas

  1. When you don’t like the message, you disparage the sender. Has the predicted rise in global temperature occurred or not? Have the seas risen as predicted, or not? Your media constructed hysteria is falling apart. And in order to get grants, hopefully scientists will have to begin doing science again. It’s not the end of the world if a few more plants grow a little more lushly.

  2. dangblog

    When the message purports to provide scientific knowledge, it’s not unreasonable to look at the source of the message, is it? And just as you might expect when you ask astronauts to pontificate on climate science, they get it completely wrong.

    Yes, the rise in global temperatures and sea levels have occurred and continue to. Do you need me to look up the sources of this information for you? I think you can do it. My challenge to you Carl is to locate a single scientific body or academy devoted to climate science that disagrees that global temperatures are rising and humans are the cause. And I mean academies that have national and/or global stature, not right-wing “think” tanks.

    By the way, are you implying that the only consequence of global warming is increased plant growth? If so, what plant are you smoking, and where did you get this information?

    P.S. Love the Sch00dles motivational poster. “Get your name out there.” 🙂

  3. Well, I went to the EPA webpage. They don’t make it easy to find, but the data corroborates the temperature change data printed in the Wall Street Journal. No increase in temperature in the last 10 years, and only 1.3 degrees over the past 100. Not alarming. And moreover, if warming is supposed to expotentially out of control – how would you explain the last 10 years? (Other than giving me the names of a lot of august institutions?)
    And as to the importance of CO2: geological records show CO2 levels some 20 times higher in past periods than is current without anywhere near the predicted rise in temperatures.
    For goodness sakes, Dan, have a little respect. You’re smart, but other people have brains also.
    P.S. Thanks for poster compliment.

  4. dangblog

    Who is claiming that warming is “exponentially out of control”? Where did you get that? This is what is known as a straw man argument. You attack a position that I’m not taking.

    A 1.3 degree change over the last 100 is what I have read also, with 2/3 of the increase happening in the last 30 years. Don’t confuse weather (which is short term and a single degree can mean little) with climate (which is long term and can have large effects on weather, crops, etc.)

    Atmospheric CO2 is higher today than its ever been in the last two million years.

    2011 was the 35th year in a row that temperatures were above normal, with 2005 and 2011 being the hottest two on record.
    The ten hottest years on record occurred in the last 15.

    Carl – I’m not a climate scientist and I realize statistics can be debated and debated. That’s why I lean toward the findings of 95% of all climate scientists rather than the chemistry professors and rocket designers gathered by the WSG. I go with the evidence – the “august bodies” that study this stuff.

    The question is, why don’t you believe them? Do you and Burt Rutan know more about climate than the combined insights of the entire world’s climate science community?

    • Gee, why don’t we believe the authorities in Salem who burned all those witches. They were experts! They knew more about witches than you or I know. Clmate changes. That’s something it does. But politics and hysteria don’t. I’m very hesitant to accept an opposing view which will not respect dissent, and couches it’s arguments with an ever increasing sense of urgency. When this happens, I have to look into the matter myself. And what I see are a number of scientific facts which they will not address nor confute. Among many of them are these two:. Global temperature has not risen in the past 10 years. And carbon dioxide levels 20 times current levels occurred in the prehistoric past without the elevation of temperature anywhere near what has been predicted. (And this doesn’t exhaust the list.)

  5. yacman

    I don’t think it is really reasonable to argue that the climate is not in the process of changing. The real question for me is how catastrophic or mundane the effects will be. My problem is that I’m an optimist so I think that human beings have remarkable abilities to adapt. There will though, I would guess, be major upheaval.

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