A word about climate change…

….this is not the place to carry on a debate about whether or not it’s happening, or who’s more indoctrinated than whom. I’m always interested in having intelligent, respectful conversations about controversial topics, but I find that it’s generally extremely difficult for participants from either side of a heated (ahem….no pun intended) debate to maintain those particular qualities.

This blog was established to celebrate an outrageously fascinating animal and ecosystem, and more generally to share my love of wildlife, nature, and creativity. It will not become a place in which we carry on the same tired and unnecessary debates that permeate mainstream media. If you don’t believe in and/or are scared of science and madcap imagination, this is not the place for you.

So let me just state my official climate change position: it’s happening, and the narrative within this blog exists within that paradigm. The preponderance of data point to human-caused climate effects that will have far-reaching consequences for humanity and the planet. I am not a climate scientist but I’ve worked with several, and I accept the methodology and the conclusions of my peers who are.  I have arrived at this stance by using my critical thinking skills to consider a number of hypotheses, including the idea that climate change is not happening at all, or is happening due to natural climate fluctuations. If you have any inclination to suggest that I have been brainwashed or am not open-minded, ask yourself whether you hold that opinion simply because I haven’t come to the same conclusions you have, or whether you actually have scientifically valid information that ought to be considered (note: being ‘open-minded’ places no one under any obligation to consider data that do not meet our standards of quality. And in this case, that minimum standard of quality is peer-reviewed academic literature.) Many questions remain to be answered about climate change, but I believe that the most pressing of those – especially for all you breeders out there – is what kind of world we’re going to leave to your descendants.

So if you’re interested in having a conversation about constructive paths forward, by all means, post comments leaving your suggestions. If you’re interested in telling me that you think wolverines and high altitude ecosystems are awesome too, let me know that as well. If you’re interested in making a stance that climate change isn’t happening, please go do it somewhere else. Any future comments attempting to instigate a debate on this topic will be deleted.


4 thoughts on “A word about climate change…

  1. Let me just point out – before you delete this post – that the corruption of the peer-review process by AGW activists is one of the central issues of “climategate.”

    You’re “minimum standard of quality” is, therefor, based upon criteria that are already flawed by others’ lack of scientific ethics.

    But, as you have rightly stated, this is your blog and you’re quite right to set whatever limits on conversation that you wish. It will necessarily limit discussion to be from only “like minded” people as opposed to broader audiences, but that’s for you to decide if it’s a good thing or not.

    BTW: I’ve a great fondness for the wolverine. They’re a truly stunning animal.

    • That’s why I specified ‘minimum’ standard of quality. Then, of course, there is still plenty of sorting to do once that minimum is met. There’s certainly peer reviewed science that is not worth the paper its printed on, but people with a scientific background tend to recognize that kind of stuff when we see it. Setting that baseline was in response to a guy who pointed to a paper that is formatted to look like a peer reviewed paper, but is not actually peer reviewed. That stuff shouldn’t even be part of the discussion. Honestly, it’s like people who don’t believe the earth revolves around the sun showing up on an astrophysicists’ webpage with 16th century arguments from the Pope against the heliocentric model of the universe. No one is under any obligation to take something like that seriously, and the suggestion that the astrophysicist would be ‘close-minded’ for not paying attention to the guy is a little ridiculous.

      What I object to is the suggestion that people who have reached the conclusion that climate change is happening have somehow fallen victim to a process of mass hypnosis instead of having reached that conclusion by way of our intellects and critical thinking skills. I have these fundamentalist Christian second cousins who have been trying to convert me from the time we were kids, and they just don’t get the fact that I’ve actually considered their position, heard everything they’ve said, and simply found their arguments lacking, their system uninspiring, and therefore don’t accept their beliefs for myself. I don’t mind what they believe, I’m never going to try to convert them to my own belief system, but I’m tired of hearing about how deficient I am for not agreeing with them. They persist. It’s annoying. Climate change deniers who continue to argue with people who have said “I’m a scientist and I’ve really thought this through” are in the same boat as my cousins. I’m all for letting that boat drift around in its own vortex, but I don’t want to get sucked in. Hence the assertion that I’m going to delete posts that suggest that I haven’t thought things through.

      Roger Pielke Jr. wrote a great book, The Honest Broker, about what happens in these sorts of debates, in which science is supposed to be used as a basis for decision-making, and to summarise his argument: in situations in which there is a high degree of certainty about scientific information, and a high degree of agreement amongst stakeholders about desired outcomes, science-based decision-making will not be a problem. Even in situations in which there is some uncertainty about the science, but agreement about desired outcomes, there won’t be too much difficulty in making a decision that meets the needs of society. In situations in which there is a high degree of scientific certainty but no agreement amongst stakeholders about desired outcomes, however, there’s no way to make a science-based decision because the different stakeholder groups will simply entrench in an effort to obtain their own special interests. One of the more common ways that people distract from the fact that they are special interests is to start lobbing different versions of the ‘science’ around in an attempt to create controversy or uncertainty about basic information. Witness the creationists and their desperate effort to suggest that there is actually a conflict in the science about whether evolution actually happens. Or take the way in which environmental advocacy groups and people who oppose having wolves in the West have both picked through the science to find tidbits that agree with their own positions and refute the cherished claims of the opposition. In the latter case, there’s also been an attempt to discredit individuals or groups (including scientists) in order to discredit science that doesn’t agree with the interest group’s stance or, in some cases, to cast aspersion on ALL of the scientific endeavor and information out there based upon a single error of a single individual. There are hundreds of similar examples, all of which essentially revolve around two groups that have very different values. The moral is, decision-making is really a process of negotiating among competing values demands even when scientific information is dead on. So I think what we really need to talk about – openly, for a change – are the values divides within our culture, rather than the actual science, which to me and to the rest of the credible scientific community is without too much doubt. I wish the conservatives would just come out and say, “We don’t care what happens to the environment anyway because it’s critical to the growth of the economy that we continue to exploit it,” and the liberals would just come out and say, “We care what happens to the environment because it’s critical to the future of our country,” and then we could all have a conversation about where we fall on this values spectrum. But instead we quibble about the details of a specific scientific paper or two and these larger debates never occur, and the same problems persist, both within our system of decision making, and within the environment.

      I was planning on writing about many of these things – in a slightly different context – on this blog at a later date. But I’ll throw this out there now, just for a tantalizing preview. I thoroughly expect that my vaaaaasssstt audience will be salivating for more about the thrilling world of the interface between science and values in decision making 🙂

      Anyway, the only ‘like minded’ people I’m looking for are people who equally like wolverines. If you don’t feel like accepting every aspect of everything I say here, that’s totally fine with me. My purpose is not to create a platform for climate change acceptance or action, but simply to tell the wolverine story according to my own exposure to the ecosystem in which I live and work, and one of the many very scientifically rigorous research projects that studies it. I’m not trying to limit conversation in any way, but I am also saying that I’m not trying to have a conversation about whether or not climate change is happening. If you want to have a new and innovative debate, I’m in. But if it’s the same old stuff, I have a busy ski schedule and I’d much rather spend my time doing that.

      I am totally psyched as always to hear from someone who likes wolverines. If I can ask, how did you become interested in them and why do you like them?

  2. Leaving AGW aside as far to hot-button for the moment (We’re in a form of disagreement), I got involved with wolverines close to 20 years ago while working with the folk from USFWS in Alaska.

    As for why I like them – They’re incredibly tough, they’re possibly the best survivor of all the mammalian vertebrates I’ve encountered, their behaviors are complex, and they’re bloody hard – a challenge – to get a good look at in the wild.

    …And I grew up on X-Men comics and remember when Wolverine joined the team. 😉

  3. Oh, on a side note, I had a police escort everywhere I went the last time I was in Jackson Hole. I was doing final (triple-checking) field QA on one of my maps which was, along with myself, going to be used as evidence in an EPA case against one the ranchers in the area. 😉

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