Response to Rebane

Details at top, important stuff (climate change is a war against the young) below. (Also, here's what I've been doing, and here's some journalism I did.)

Dr. George Rebane, a Nevada County climate contrarian who speaks confidently on many subjects, wrote a misleading blogpost about me in 2010.   And although I've asked him multiple times to take down the post, he has declined to do so.  He has also declined to add to it a link to this response; as far as I know, the link is still buried toward the bottom of the comments there.

(For the record - in retrospect, looking over the tenor of the comments, it was rash of me to respond there.)

In retrospect, some of Rebane's specific criticisms had a germ of truth; e.g. I had put an inflammatory title on an NCFocus post ("Why does [name] hate Hospice?" and to some degree also inflamed its content)  about the unwillingness of a climate contrarian to meet & talk with me**, in exchange for my making a $100(?) donation to charity; and also I, in retrospect unfairly, had called out the individual who was ostensibly* the person's communications business partner, by name.  (I'd rethought & apologized for the latter, and renamed the former, and deleted ad hominem-flavored content.)  But there's considerable hyperbole in the "sad tale" blogpost as well. (George, if you're comfortable with what you wrote, you should be willing to talk about it face to face.)

As for other interactions and writings it alluded to:

RR blog commenters might consider taking the free  Open Climate 101 college course from the University of Chicago.

Yes, to call a private party at home to ask a discomforting question (of legitimate public interest) could be over the line;  and in most cases it wouldn't be necessary unless you needed to reach someone & couldn't do so by email or by phoning the organization they're heading  (neither of which worked for me for reaching CABPRO's executive director).   To drop by the workplace they head, to ask about a separate business they run  (as I had done with Watts), might be borderline as well; I'll leave that for others to argue.  Journalism is a balancing act, and I have no way of knowing whether I had this balance - when do you need "boots on the ground", vs. when is doing so invasive?

As for my  [edited from the original] assessment of the [now-renamed] Sierra Environmental Studies Foundation's very hard math-and-motion-physics TechTest, it's still the case, as far as I know  (and  please correct me if I'm wrong on any of this), that we still don't know who has funded the bulk of its scholarships and we see no sign that any of SESF's prolifically-communicating officers accepts the peer reviewed scientific consensus on climate change.  (Plus we know that at the the ritual post-test breakfast, one climate-contrarian SESF officer reported that he had informed the students sitting near him about some climate-related contrarian predictions of cooler temperatures in coming decades (which is a view contrary to the science-based projections -- hence, contrarian.)

(To see how cherry-picking can yield a misleading picture, click on "The Escalator" in SkepticalScience's Graphics page.  And these SkepticalScience posts will probably show how the Dalton Minimum - which I believe was the topic of breakfast discussion - is misunderstood by contrarians.)

You're likely a citizen, a parent now or someday, and a voter, so do keep in mind the big picture:  the climate inaction effort that these fellows' contributions have lent support to* is orders of magnitude more damaging than tobacco denial, since its effects will reverberate for generations to come.

The consequences of business-as-usual inaction on climate change (the upward red path on the right half of the Meinshausen graph (scroll down) ) threaten to be disastrous, and are projected to continue to impact today's non-elderly and their descendants essentially forever, in human-civilization terms - "CO2 sticks around for hundreds of years, plus 25% ...sticks around forever" (link).  But I haven't always been temperate in my responses; and while yes it's disturbing that some men with grandchildren "in the test tube" (i.e., subject to the atmosphere we're messing with) are laboring* to increase the risk for their grandkids and for generations to come, even so, to respond with raised voice or the written equivalent is counterproductive.**

* These fellows' efforts are understandable, if they really believe they can't be mistaken.  But otherwise, when major scientific bodies all over the planet have said (scroll down) that climate action is needed to keep from disrupting the only world the young & their descendants will have to live on, it's hard to justify.

**Tips for avoiding the urge toward raised-voice responses: 1) stay centered; 2) keep expectations under control (unlike Scientist #1 in Dr. Boli's The Duck) and 3) know thyself, and don't tarry where you'll be tempted to respond confrontationally - in such locales, it's best to just plant a recommendation for, if the proprietor will permit it (some do delete some science-aligned comments), remind readers of the stakes involved (and of the consequences of even a few years of delay now ), & then move on.  (Yes this is a drive-by, but it's a civil, constructive & science-aligned one; and ideally, you'll give the host a way to get in touch with you.  And considering what's at stake...)
And a p.s. to this - IMO there's a lot more leeway for raised voice when talking with a friend (e.g. one of my favorite libertarians) than with an acquaintance. I confess I still sometimes do the former.(though I'm awaiting feedback on whether to avoid it there too.)

For good-faith doubters who want to learn: you might start by taking 30 seconds or so to watch this video showing historic global temperatures from 1884 to 2011.

Got five minutes? See this 24-point summary (with upbeat ending) of Richard Alley's book Earth, An Operator's Manual.  Got a few more minutes?  Visit NASA's site -

Confused about something you heard?  SkepticalScience offers a pageful of one-line rebuttals to climate inaction talking points (each linking to a fuller, science-based explanation), plus an iPhone app for mobile rebuttals, plus a short, printable guide.

Really want to know your stuff?  The University of Chicago offers an online course in climate science (with registration, lecture videos, quizzes, and a certificate for those who complete it) at no charge.  (Who wants to take it with me?) (2012-06-12 update: still looking.  If you say "yes" but never have the time, that  counts as a No.)

Concerned about the uncertainties?  Consider the big picture, that we do know - and keep in mind that we can't assume that changes will be gradual.

As for me, I'm well aware that I have no background in climate science that would equip me to second-guess the findings of the field (See: Gutting's On experts and global warming and Peter Watts ("science is alchemy...").  Considering how serious the risks are, and that billions will be feeling the consequences of our actions for generations to come, IMO it's folly for us to dismiss experts' assessments about the risks we're incurring.

"it's 3:23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

Surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do
once you knew?"
( link )

(What I do is try to communicate, to you. Please, for the sake of your descendants - and for your own life, if you're middle aged or younger - try to listen & absorb.   True beliefs are better than a debate victory, since they let you navigate far better than a blindfold does.  Don't your descendants deserve this?)

Minor edits 2012-07-22.

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