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Skepticism vs. denial about climate change

An increasing number of climatologists are coming out of the lab and into the public eye to combat a vocal — and fairly successful — movement to discredit climate science. Need to Know’s Alison Stewart speaks with Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, to find out how to sort  fact from fiction regarding climate change. Schmidt is a contributor to, a consortium of 11 climate scientists who aim to provide unbiased context for stories about climate change. All scientists are skeptics, he says, but denying climate change is something different.

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  • Michael

    Climate change is fairly not debated: the climate DOES change. Whether it’s caused by us is different. It ain’t … duh.

  • Tom

    Instead of worrying about climate change we should be working on how to adjust to the warmer climate. America reducing CO2 will have no effect as China is adding the electical generation capacity equal to France every year and most of it is generated from coal. As other countries increase their standard of living (India, Vietnam, etc.) they will consume more power and generate more CO2.

  • Joe

    Read Tom [Aug 9, 11:16 am] closely. He’s right, emission reductions are not enough. They help for cleaner air/water, but can’t be fast or widespread enough to realistically address global warming. The enemy is HEAT. Emissions are only the origins of it, not remotely the solution, and we must redirect attention from wishful-thinking — emission reductions — to HEAT management. But Tom is wrong in his solution “adjust to the warmer climate.” Adjust = higher sea level, droughts, storms, catastrophe. We must prevent this. We can do it ONLY if we reflect 1-2% Earth’s solar radiation budget back out into space, via an admittedly vast/expensive array of ground-based mirrors [orbit-based not feasible], before heating occurs. By increasing/reducing this array in response to man-made or Natural cycles, we can regulate planet-wide temperature [and thereby climate] up or down similar to how a thermostat regulates temperature indoors. We must begin to think in terms of heat instead of emissions, and of active regulation measures instead of passive adjustments, or eventually and inevitably destabilizing climate influences will kill millions, perhaps billions. Plan details and rationale at [write -- Plan Request -- in the subject line].

  • Bob Powell

    Wrong, Michael. Your “duh” is an expression of ignorance. Climate is changing and it’s anthropogenic … we’re causing it. “Global Warming: An Inconvenient-to-Understand Truth”

    Emissions must be addressed and quickly, once reinforcing feedbacks get going they’ll be out of control and there will be no way to “adjust”.

  • Jim Bob

    The amount of CO2 increase in the atmosphere is insufficient to absorb the black body radiation emitted by the earth to cause any meaningful temperature charge. Therefore climate modelers were compelled to evoke a cooperative mechanism where water vapor increase provided the driving force. That is quite a trick to have more water vapor and no increase in cloud cover. Cloud cover is a powerful cooling agent in scattering incoming solar radiation as easily perceived in the drop in power generation from your solar panels on a cloudy day. You do check your panels? The lack of global temperature increase over the last ten years has broken all the models because they were ad-hoc anyway. If you have done any modeling with cobbled together equations you know you can get any result you want by fiddling with the constants. The climategate release of e-mail has exposed this as an elaborate fraud. Frauds in science are common and can go on for a surprisingly long time as long as the money continues to flow. Only once the money spigots are turned off can real science resume.

  • Oksana Yonan

    One does not need to be a scientist to recognize that billions of people who populate this planet with trillions of animals needed to feed them do produce untold trillions of cubic yards of human waste, garbage, industrial waste and manure. One has to be in a supreme state of arrogance, indifference or downright stupidity to deny the profound impact that human activity has on our planet. How we respond to the impact created by our presence and activities has and will continue to determine the ability for life to thrive on Earth. You cannot blow off the tops of mountains, burn trillions of gallons of oil and coal and gas per year and say it has no impact. How can cloud formation not be affected by the profusion of chemical gases and particle pollution that we ceaselessly emit into atmosphere. Individuals determined to evade responsibility will and do relentlessly engage in fraudulent thinking. Their deceptiveness has to begin with themselves. Their reasoning is that if they can believe their lie then it must be true. It is time for every adult human being on our planet to respond to the impact that their presence, activities and choices have on our environment. There will always be cynics and nay-sayers. We can let them divert us with their chatter or we can do what is right – stop polluting, go zero waste, and demand and support what we believe will clean up our planet.

  • Gavin Schmidt of Real Climate on PBS’s "Need to Know" | Climate World Wide After 2009

    [...] Skepticism vs. denial about climate change [...]

  • Kem Patrick73

    One major aspect we were all warned of several years ago due to global warming, was (climate change).This year we are seeing (dramatic changes) of climate all around the globe, from flooding in many US states, extremely heavy rainfalls, (warmer air contains more moisture), extreme drought in Russia, India, Mongolia and large areas of China, massive floods in India, pakastan and China, record breaking cold weather in South America and very warm weather in the Arctic with average temps being exceeded by 25 to 35 degrees F every day in July. Incredible. Thats’ just some examples and illustrates the first BIG act for (climate change).

    Every year from now on it will be far worse as atmosperic Co2 and Ch4 levels rapidly increase in our upper atmosphere, which thicken the greenhouse “blanket” effect and more of the Earth’s heat heat is trapped. There are no sensible arguments to dispute any of that,,, none.

    There is only one reason that the average daily tems in Russia and much of the Arctic region, ( !/4 of our planet), were 25 to 35 degrees F higher than normal this past July and continuing into August. That reason is methane (Ch4) in now releasing from the Arctic Ocean at near double the fantactic amount measured by the ISSS teams last year. The warned feedback loop has now begun and I personally don’t have a clue of what can be done to stop it from accellerating until atmospheric Co2 levels are far over 400 ppm and climbing to 1,000 ppm. When Co2 levels reach the 340 ppm range, global warming is a fact. That fact is unarguable by anyone who has at least two brain cells wired. There is nothing to argue about or to be skeptical about or to deny, any more than denying that the sun rises every morning and sets every evening…. Facts are facts,,,, period. Co2 levels are now over 396 ppm and rapidly climbing.

    Remember that old saying, “It’s the economy stupid”? Well, the saying now is, “It’s the methane stupid”! I give us five more years max, probably three.

  • KEM patrick73

    “Feedback Loop”??? As the Arctic region warms, the Arctic ice melts, that happens every summer, it always has in human’s time on Earth. The last few summers the melt was far more severe. As of now the Arctic Ocean’s perennial ice, (thick ice) has reduced to the point that only 10% is ice which is over two years old. The one year ice melts away by August. As the ice melts, the ocena’s bottom permafrost melts and massive amounts of methane gas is released into the atmosphere. Methane is 25 to 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than Co2 is.

    Ch4, or methane only lasts for about 8.5 years, but thats far long enough to cause excessive warming of the Earth and then more Arctic ice melts, then more methane releases, Earth gets even warmer and more ice melts even faster, etc, etc, or (double feedback).

    It’s sort of like like a Choo-choo train gaining speed, add more coal to the boiler, higher heat, more steam pressure and more speed. We can stop a train, we cannot stop the now natural feedback loop. And it doesn’t matter now if it has all been the result of human activity or AGW or natural causes. What matters is whatever the reason, global warming, climate change is an unarguable fact and the feedback loop has activated… How to stop that? … I dunno.