How to Be a Climate Hero

ONE AFTERNOON last summer, I was on a commuter train when I heard someone yelling behind me. I didn’t pay attention because I was breaking up a fight between my kids. But the third time the person yelled, I turned around.

It was a boy, about six years old. He was standing on his seat screaming, “My mom’s having a seizure!” The only part of his mom I could see were her legs, sticking out into the aisle, convulsing. And arrayed around the train car were forty other people, mouths open. Not one of them doing a thing.

Humans tend to freeze like this — the Bystander Effect, it’s called. It was first demonstrated in a famous psychology experiment by John Darley and Bibb Latané in which the subject was asked to fill out some forms. He or she assumed these forms were preparatory to the experiment, but the experiment had already begun. While the person circled multiple-choice answers, smoke began to sneak out of a vent in the room. Thick, gray smoke. The kind that says fire. The experimenter then timed how long it took for the subject to leave the room.

The only variable was whether there were other people in the room. These people pretended to be subjects also, but actually they were actors paid by the experimenter to stay there, heads down, pencils working, ignoring the smoke. If the subject was alone in the room, 75 percent of the time she or he would leave inside of a minute. But if there were others in the room working away on their forms, the subject would stay there with them — 90 percent of the time. Stay there filling out forms until the smoke was too thick to see through. Until, if there had been a fire, it would have been licking at the walls.

In the decades since that first experiment, it’s been repeated with many variations on the type of emergency: staged robberies, lost wallets, people in hallways crying for help, etc. Every time, if there was more than one person witnessing the event, all of them were almost certain to do nothing.

So the boy on the train was loudly identifying this as a true emergency, his mother physically demonstrating the urgency of the matter. Still everyone sat there, mouths open. Half of them had cell phones, but not one of them was dialing 9-1-1. Remember this fact: although we feel safer in a crowd, that’s actually where humans are most incapacitated. The bigger the crowd, the stronger the effect.

Right now everyone understands that something truly horrible is happening to the planet’s climate. The heat waves and forest fires, the floods and droughts. But there are 6 billion of us now — quite the Bystander Effect. So we stay in our seats filling out forms, trying to ignore the smoke swirling thicker around us. We bustle about our normal lives, assuming it can’t be as bad as it seems because surely, then, everyone would be marching in the street about it.

On the train with the epileptic mother, I stepped forward, yelling out, “Someone call 9-1-1! Someone get the conductor!” I knew about the Bystander Effect, had studied it in school, and knowing about the effect, it turns out, inoculates you against it.

Before I moved, everyone’s faces had been contorted with terror — as though they were the ones having the seizure, or as though this woman thrashing around like a dying fish might be about to start biting their ankles. But from the moment I stepped forward, telling them what to do, the fear in their faces melted away. Two other people stood up to help. Four others whipped out their cell phones to call 9-1-1. One person ran for the conductor. They just needed someone to break the group cohesion and start the action.

A few years ago, when my first child was born, I became paralyzed with fear about climate disruption. It was so clear that our children would be punished for what we adults were doing to the world. I got depressed. I got anxious. Then, from sheer desperation, I started writing letters to editors. I remember well the first one that got published. It was in the Boston Globe, and it supported building Cape Wind, the large wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound. The head of Cape Wind called me up personally to thank me. The thrill I got. The sense of agency.

After that I was out of my seat. I believed there was a safe room I could try to get to if I moved super quick. Now I go to every demonstration. I write to every politician.

I insulate my house fanatically. I don’t own a car. Every year I do a little more: composting kitchen waste, shopping at farmers’ markets, recycling, buying only secondhand. Using carbon calculators, I’ve figured that I’ve lowered my family’s emissions 50 percent in seven years. That’s a big step. Because of my actions, my fear for my children’s future is not incapacitating. I’m striding down the aisle trying to help. Not only have I improved my emotional state, I’ve broken group cohesion and started to pull others from their seats. I’ve gotten friends and relatives to insulate more and drive less, to admit the problem and start thinking about the solution.

Scientists tell us we have ten years, if that, to make significant changes. Every indication, from ice caps to defrosting tundra, seems to show this is the tipping point. This is our moment. Perhaps you never thought you’d get a chance to play hero. Here it is. The kid on the train is screaming out for help. The weather is convulsing. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure what to do. Make your best guess. Call 9-1-1. For god’s sake, get the conductor.

Audrey Schulman’s novels include The Cage, Swimming with Jonah and A House Named Brazil. Her articles have appeared in Ms Magazine, Orion, Grist and others.


  1. Don’t panic.

    You are witnessing how we change right in front of your eyes.

    People not commonly thought of as leaders step up and help our herd change direction. First a few drips, then a trickle. Then a stream, a river and finally a sea change.

    Meanwhile there is plenty for all to do.

    My sense — and this is not meant cynically as some might take it– is that life will go on, that many of us will survive and adapt.

    What we have to do is call on our inner conductor — and that to me means daily exercise, good food and our best efforts at loving kindness.

    Don’t forget what Seamus Heaney wrote:

    by Seamus Heaney

    Human beings suffer,
    they torture one another,
    they get hurt and get hard.
    No poem or play or song
    can fully right a wrong
    inflicted and endured.

    The innocent in gaols
    beat on their bars together.
    A hunger-striker’s father
    stands in the graveyard dumb.
    The police widow in veils
    faints at the funeral home

    History says, Don’t hope
    on this side of the grave.
    But then, once in a lifetime
    the longed for tidal wave
    of justice can rise up,
    and hope and history rhyme.

    So hope for a great sea-change
    on the far side of revenge.
    Believe that a further shore
    is reachable from here.
    Believe in miracles
    and cures and healing wells.

    Call the miracle self-healing:
    The utter self-revealing
    double-take of feeling.
    if there’s fire on the mountain
    or lightning and storm
    and a god speaks from the sky.

    That means someone is hearing
    the outcry and the birth-cry
    of new life at its term.

    Seamus Heaney,
    The Cure at Troy

  2. In Australia things are beginning to move beyond the deer caught in the lights, but the reactions are still rather slow. Your reflection on the slowness of people to take up the urgency of the crisis we are all facing is also due to the long period of denial by our leaders and the conservative advice that has come from scientists. Both are reasonable in normal times, but we are beyond normal times now. Thank you for your article.


  3. Great article! Your “bystander effect” is certainly on the mark, but I’d like to add that with all the current information about how the production of “meat” creates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector alone, most people still refuse to either reduce or remove meat from their diet. There’s no “bystander effect” going on here. When change involves “food choices,” something happens to even the most sensible, intelligent human and whether it’s denial or arrogance, it’s VERY difficult to get people to make this important and necessary change in their lifestyle!

  4. I find it very frustrating to see people around me do nothing. I take cloth bags to a “discussion group”, and find no-one wants them. In this group are people who believe the climate is changing, but seem to feel that no matter what we do, there will be no
    way to improve the condition. I do all the eco. things such as rainwater collecting etc. etc. I believe it will take mandates from the govt. to make substatntive change. This country is run by an oligopoly no matter which party is in power.
    Oh, for a one day dictatorship of a “green” person!!!!

    In the meantime, let’s all do the very best we can. It’s a moral/ethical issue.

    Maggie Tatum

  5. I also think life will go on, but I worry about how much will be lost.

    And being a mother changes my viewpoint considerably, the luxury of my ability to stand back emotionally. I used to imagine I would spend this time worrying about the future SATs or colleges of my children, Instead I worry about their climate.

    I throw myself at the problem again and again, battering myself against the inertia of those who have not started to change.

  6. I try not to decide if I’m making a difference or if we are all changing ENOUGH, for that is a fast way to get depressed and end up curling up into a fetal position, unable to do anything.

    Instead I try to wonder if I’m leading a moral life, if I’m reacting to the situation as the person I’d like to be. Reacting this way I can hopefully lead others to do the same. And at least on my deathbed I won’t be a smaller defeated person.

    Aside from the moral and emotional perks of this response, I find it allows me to be motivated to do more and fight more strongly.

  7. Wonderful, haunting essay. Wow! Thank you, bless you and KEEP WRITING!

  8. We have a on going, two+ year grassroot’s action in Minnesota to encourage motorist’s to just drive the speed limit. It is simple, basically free, and effective… Take a minute and come on board. It is a baby step, but oh well. We are getting emails from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries. This effort challenge’s behavior and has the opportunity for success. We have supporter’s in every state in the U.S. and started in very rural Pine County, Mn. If we can make a contribution…everybody can.

  9. A wonderful article, beautifully framed and easily read. I agree that people are stuck in the muck, unaware of what to do. As I talk to children around the area here, they simply dont know what to do. Too much doom and gloom seems to elongate the stand-still. I tell them small steps.. bags, reusable water bottles. But are small steps enough?

    Thank You for a great article.

  10. The Greeks would not name anyone a hero who was still alive: too much could happen between a great deed and death to wipe out the great deed. Moreover, as Emerson wrote, death is the only proof of heroism. There is plenty to do, but we demean the term “hero” when we apply it indiscriminately to any and all worthy actions.

  11. Audrey, what a perfect description of our frantic need to do something while sitting paralyzed trying to know just what that should be.

    But regarding climate action, I’m afraid that a much larger number of people refuse to turn around and keep reading their paper.

  12. Well, right now the eastern US is having a heatwave, with temps in the 80’s in April and we’re all loving it! What does that mean about human nature?

    I read Michael Pollen’s column in this past Sunday’s NYT Magazine. Why Bother?

    He’s for growing your own food, planting a vegetable garden, and get reconnected to our food, our planet and our dependence upon it too.

    There are so many personal choices that are easy and work. I’m for just starting.

  13. Great article, should be read by everyone worldwide.

    I loved your writing:

    “….I got depressed. I got anxious. Then, from sheer desperation, I started writing letters to editors. I remember well the first one that got published. It was in the Globe, …the thrill I got. The sense of agency.”

    Yes, the sense of agency. We all need to do something personal like you did: write a letter, make a phone call, attend a demo, march, etc…..

    For me, my sense of agency came from starting the Polar Cities Research Project, which posits that by 2500 we might need to have polar cities to live in, for survivors of global warming, if all the mitigation things do not work. So my one-man band sense of agency comes from this blog and media outreach I started a year ago, with a New York Times blogpost about it on March 29 on Dot Earth.

    But for the most part, nobody is really listening to me, or wants to. But this just gives me a stronger sense of agency, urgency, whatever. Anyway, it’s not my idea, it comes directly from Dr James Lovelock and most people do not really want to hear what he is saying either. [I listened to him.]

  14. Prior to 2000, I worked in the Seattle area. I drove 30 miles (one way) to work. At that time, I knew we were destroying the earth (I have a degree in ecology). But I just kept joining all those people on the highway each morning. Bumper to bumper for a 1-2 hour commute to and from work each day.

    In 2000, I finally came to my senses. I chose to leave Seattle and a very good career as a computer consultant. I started a native plant materials company to try to give something back. AND I consciously chose a job where I would not commute 60 miles and 2 hours every work day.

    I live in a small town now. Back then, I had a 6-digit salary as a dot com consultant. Today, I make what is considered poverty wages. But I will not give the business up. Why? Because I realize that by living here the most damage I can cause with my car is the drive 2 miles across town. After two miles, you have driven through town and there is nowhere to go.

    I now fill my gas tank once every 6 weeks instead of every 4 days. I use about 90 percent less gas than I used to. That is significant.

    I get MUCH more done because I do not waste 2 hours commuting every day. Those are two positives to the social model I have chosen to live. That everyone needs to chose to live.

    You ALL need to either move within walking distance of work or find a new job near your home. If it means you have to cut your income in half…

    So be it.

    That is the kind of commitment we all have to make to survive.

    This is a war. And just like the battles in WWI and WWII, you have to do your part even if it means real and serious consequences. And you have to be willing to do your part voluntarily.

    It might mean you have to give up your home and quality of life. You may have to move into a trailer or camper.

    But you know, if we all do it together, it would not be so bad.

    These are the kinds of changes we all have to make. And if we are unwilling to make them, then we will all literally roast in hell.

    We have to be willing to give up what we have had to insure the future of our children. Or species. Humanity itself.

    And if we do not take that seriously, if we all look around at each other in panic and shock, then we are all going to be going into heat stress, heat stroke… and seisures as was the fate of this lady on the bus.

    God be with us. Peace, goodwill toward men.

    Ken Boettger
    Ellensburg, WA

  15. Ken

    Very good comment, and I agree with you 100000%. This is a war. And sacrifices will be called for, in terms of comfort levels and convenience. I have not driven a car in 16 years. Use a bicycle every day to get around town. Do my work four blocks from my home. Live with low but comfortable wages. Enjoy life immensely every day!

    You are so right. If ever want to chat, do email me at danbloom GMAIL

    PS: I used to pick apples during harvest work one autumn time in 1971……

    Fond memories of that area of the state….


  16. Just reading all that you are doing gives me more hope.

    We all have to keep leading by our behavior and hoping to get others to change.

  17. I’ve always been a worrier, and I don’t know about everyone else, but that’s probably one reason I am so concerned about this issue, the motherload of all ‘worries.’

    Yet I see it as a good thing, it motivates me, I do everything I know how to limit my footprint, and I normalize it into my life. And then it rubs off. It becomes more normal to everyone I know, who see that BIG changes are possible. I think Audrey’s right, the bystander effect may be at work, but we are social beings who are influenced by the cultural behaviors around us. Show everyone around you a different behavior, another aspect of our humanity, and the mammoth scale will slowly but surely begin to tip the other way.

  18. What is happening here needs to be occurring now.

    Thanks for your many wonderful comments, other efforts and for this opportunity to communicate openly about what to me looks like the proverbial “mother” of all global challenges: the human overpopulation of Earth in our time.

    It looks like humankind inhabits a tiny celestial orb that is miraculously set among of sea of stars. As far as we know, life as we know it exists nowhere else in the Universe. In the light of these one-of-a-kind circumstances, perhaps we of the human family have the responsibility of assuring the security for the future of life in our planetary home.

    I am trying to focus attention on the pressing need for human beings to protect and preserve the finite resources of Earth and its frangible ecosystems. If we fail to achieve this goal, then an unimaginably bleak future could await our children. In all the seriousness of what could be somehow true, I mean the children of my generation.

    If 6+ billion human beings live on Earth now and 9+ billion are expected to populate our small planet by 2050, then the human species simply cannot keep engaging in certain unbridled activities that we can see overspreading the Earth because the Earth has limited resources upon which all forms of life and human constructions like national economies utterly depend for existence. Without adequate resources and ecosystem system services of Earth, life as we know it and human institutions could collapse, I suppose.

    Now, some portion of the world’s human population conspicuously over-consumes the resources of our planetary home. Other people, working in huge multinational conglomerations, are operating businesses in a way that recklessly scours the oceans’ floor, decapitates mountains, turns biomass into human mass and, in these and many other ways, end up dissipating natural resources at such an alarming rate that the Earth has insufficient time to restore the resources for human benefit. Still other people in the family of humanity are overpopulating the planet. The leviathan-like scale and rapid growth of global human consumption, production and propagation activities are putting the Earth, life as we know it, and the human community in grave, clear and present danger.

    Elder human beings of the overdeveloped world, of whom I am one, are among the people in our planetary home who are ravenously over-consuming Earth’s resources. We could choose to consume less. People in the developing could choose to limit overproduction of unnecessary things, to stop ravaging the planet, and to contain industrial pollution. People in the underdeveloped world could limit their number of offspring. Perhaps these are some ways the family of humanity begins to respond ably to the human-induced global challenges that loom so ominously before humanity in our time.

    While I certainly agree that action should have been taken by my generation of old folks when we were young in the 60s and 70s, when we became aware of the “population bomb,” still we have responsibilities to assume and duties to perform, here and now, for the sake of our children, grandchildren and coming generations.

    The idea of making a conscious choice to do nothing in the face of the recognizably daunting global challenges that are visible before humanity on the far horizon is anathema to me.

    At a minimum, do we not have a “duty to warn” others of the potential for some kind of ecological catastrophe if the human community adamantly chooses to continue relentlessly down the current “primrose path” marked by soon to become unsustainable consumption, production and propagation activities now overspreading the surface of Earth?

    Always with thanks,


  19. i’m split. if i succeed, and help my nearest dearest people succeed, according to strict standards, i feel good, but if wider society misses critical environmental targets, did i also fail? not that i’m responsible for others’ choices, but i do have to live with OUR consequences.

    i think we need to watch carefully and draw out the best in people who are at the center of activity, since we are under very tight conditions now, all around the world, very fault intolerant as the food and fuel inflation shows. to me this means we must be irreverent as we are strict, bold as we are wary, loving as we are merciless.

  20. Wow! Excellent! For my documentary I’ve been looking into psychological explanations of climate change denial, and reading this was an aha moment.

    Dave Gardner
    Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity

  21. (that’s dangerous — the earth isn’t a person, the epilepsy isn’t neatly separable — noticing that someone is dying and you need to help them is different from noticing that your important tools of life are causing other people harm — there’s a lot of “how do we prevent recidivism” that needs doing — basic mitigation of social pressure to seek individual gain — help the junkies get clean and stay clean — “how do we change the economy so harm is difficult”)

  22. You can read more about bystander Effect. Once you know about it, you are less likely to be frozen by it.

    If I remember correctly, the researchers of the Bystander Effect looked into who did react. They found there are four stages you need to move through to act. 1 – recognize something is going wrong. 2 – take responsibility. 3 – identify an appropriate reaction. 4 – do it.

    I think the US is on Step 1 and wrestling with Steps 2 and 3. The good news is the rest of the world is mostly on Step 4 and waiting impatiently.

    The other thing the researchers found is that the more often you go through these 4 steps to react in an emergency, the more likely you are to do it quickly and efficiently the next time you see something bad happen. With this global emergency, we could be creating the world’s greatest generation of activists.

  23. After 9/11/01 I was a bystander for a while until I decided that our need for oil was part of the problem. I challenged myself to come up with a way to get our energy a different way. My research showed that the ultimate fuel is hydrogen, but the problem is how to get it without creating more CO2. The usual method is steam reforming which produces 5.5 pounds of CO2 for each pound of hydrogen. Electrolyzing of water with wind energy is the best. So I developed the site to show a better way. I also installed 29 compact bulbs and traded my 2000 Buick for a Prius.

  24. Be a climate hero by speaking out!

    A failure of unimaginable proportions is bound up in the the willful blindness, hysterical deafness and elective mutism of so many opinion leaders, economic powerbrokers, politicians and business tycoons who do not speak out openly, loudly and clearly about the world we inhabit as bounded and limited in space with finite resources. Their idolatry of the endless expansion of the global political economy is not only selfish, arrogant and unrealistic; they are also perversely choosing to recklessly espouse a “primrose path” to our children, a path to the future that a relatively small planet with the size and make-up of Earth cannot possibly sustain much longer, much less to the year 2050.

    At least to me, this failure by my not-so-great generation of leading elders is a “sin of omission” that is tantamount to a passive criminal act against the family of humanity, life as we know it and the Earth God blesses us to inhabit….and not ruin, I suppose.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

  25. I live in a urban environment but use a combination of city buses and light rail to commute to work every day, traded my car for a Prius, use compact bulbs, take my own shopping bags to the grocers, recycle paper, plastic and glass, buy natural products whenever I can and shop at grower’s markets when available. I also don’t buy trendy fashions and keep my clothes for as long as possible.

    I do not think of myself as a hero, but as someone who is responsible.

  26. Sometimes it can seem like people who have a lot of resources/income are doing more when they give up so much, than those who have little to give up. Eg, those who can barely afford a car at all, cannot turn it in for a Prius– maybe they just start walking a little more often.

    But there are so many small and important things each of us, no matter how little we “own”, can do to contribute to change in beneficial directions.

    For example, I shop at a natural foods Co-op and a community farm, where I buy only organic food. Period. Buy clothes and household items at thrift stores; recycle, repair and re-use everything, even envelopes; drive an old car but only need a tank of gas every two months; compost all my food scraps in a community garden plot; use almost no plastic,chemical cleaners, body care stuff, etc; buy from the smallest most responsible companies; and try to inspire (not nag) my friends to come along in similar directions.

    A couple of days ago, three friends and I went to hear Vandana Shiva talk about the power of small, relatively poor, groups of people to effect big change through unflagging dedication and mutual support. At the end of a hair-raising hearbreaking speech, she ended by saying that in the midst of all our urgent efforts, we must remember how NOT to fall into suffering, must stay connected to joy and gratitude, to the (remaining) beauty of the natural world, to kindness, comaraderie, to an active celebration of Life.

  27. Perhaps this isn’t all Bystander Effect but Madison Avenue Effect as well. All those people “sitting on the train” are conditioned every day by thousands upon thousands of insidious advertising messages. Probably 99.9% of those messages tell them they don’t have to do anything to be good folks, as long as they have the freshest breath (biggest car, yummiest snack food, reddest lips, fanciest whatever).

    If your Higher Authority (the TV) tells you you’ll get germs from helping that mother on the train who’s having a seizure, you’re sure as heck not going to help out. Besides, being a good Samaritan (to a stranger or to future generations) is no longer cool.

    When we start making thinking like an ancestor as cool and as widely “seen” as all the consumer products and habits that are killing the future, then maybe we’ll make a dent in apathy.

    And along with media literacy (which only some schools offer), perhaps we could help our children become eco-literate and legacy-literate, too. (Kids who learned the evils of smoking in health classes guilt-tripped their parents into an anti-smoking frenzy.)

    In the meantime, if we see smoke, let’s scream bloody murder! At least that will wake a few people up.

  28. We don’t have 10years….
    It took you 7yrs to 1/2 your CO2 and you were dedicated. We have move to a sustainable existence, but climate change is here and probably has tipped out of our favor.

  29. It is an honor to be part of such a conversation and to hear all that you all are doing to fight climate disruption and what you think about it.

    Whenever I wonder if climate change or the political condition is out of my control, that it is too late to fight it, I think if it were too late, how would I want to act. At the end of my life, what actions would I like to be able to look back on and always I think (whether it is too late or not) my answer is the same. I want to fight and be moral, to do what I believe is right and do as much as I can of it.

    This winter I managed to decrease my carbon emissions another 8%. I wrote many many letters. Made many phone calls.

    Let God know when it is too late to stop climate change. Me, I’m a schmo. I don’t know. I can just keep fighting.

  30. Time to be more than a climate hero by calling on your Congress persons to stop subsidies for bioethanol that will force first millions of tons of corn to be available for stemming the getting out of hand food crisis. Officials at IMF and World Bank have called the bioethanol program the main cause of rapidly developing food shortages. The chief environmental scientist in the UK’s DEFRA called for the EU to stop its bioethanol program as he pointed to data that show overall biocrops will be putting back more GHG gases than they will trapping. So you can be more than a Climate Hero by getting those subsidies stopped now so that millions of tons of corn can be distributed to many countries. Without the biofuelish subsidies, farmers will quickly turn back to growing the key crops, and YOU will become a FIGHTER against mass starvation as well as a climate hero. Along with getting your local fed elected officials alerted, you can get Speaker Pelosi’s attention by e-mailing her at
    Our president(He doesn’t deserve capitalization) has claimed that bioethanol is more important for national security than food as he defended the subsidies a few days ago. His attitude seems to be saying that if need be for national security, let everyone eat mud cakes as they have been doing in Haiti and several other places. I wish that he could be forced to eat one.
    Dr. J. Singmaster, Fremont, CA

  31. Danny Bloom comments:

    This post comes with good timing, since on May 10th, the world pop stats his 6,666,666,666 people, as the news media will havea field day with this story, come May 8-9-10…… and the 666 mark of the beast people will also have a field day with that number, although it has no religious meaning at all. just a number. And 7,777,777,777 is next. And as this blog knows so well, 9,999,999,999 is not so very far away.

    Some have already entered their names on the Global Roll Call that is trying to enlist the names of all living people today — and on May 10 — so hurry!

    Enrollment is free, just add your name to comments section, anonymous comments allowed, on the link above. Hurry. Then again, no real hurry.

  32. To add to my comment 32 on becoming a FIGHTER against mass starvation to go allong with being climate HERO, I add that you can become a CHAMPION for getting control of water pollution by calling for the developing of the pyrolysis process for organic wastes. I outlined this in comments 17, 23 ,34 &36;on “The Big Green Lie” last issue of Orion, pointing out that pyrolysis of such wastes will destroy germs, toxics and drugs that are the culprits in water pollution. In developed countries pyrolyzing these wastes will cut major costs in maintaining dumps. In undevloped countries setting these up will reduce major water pollution problems that may soon have worse effects on the people than the climate crisis.
    The pennyante steps called for by even Al Gore’s ad campaign will do little to reduce our carbon footprint and nothing to provide desperately needed food and clean water in the undeveloped countries. The pyrolysis of organic wastes will get some carbon completely removed from recycling by stopping the wastes from biodegrading in nature thereby reducing our carbon footprint.
    So Readers I urge you to take some big steps and tell your Congress persons to
    I. Stop the bioethanol farce to free up corn to feed millions, some of whom are eating mud cakes and also to stop adding unneeded extra GHGs to the growing overload on the globe already wrecking havoc. If this step can be taken now, our farmers will be forced back to growing food by fall for next year.
    II. Call for developing the pyrolysis process to use on the globe’s massive mess of organic wastes with the big added benefits of removing some carbon from recycling back as GHGs, and curbing water pollution from the germs, toxics and drugs in the wastes.
    You can be a HERO, FIGHTER and CHAMPION for these actions by contacting your Congress persons and getting your friends alerted for real steps to allow our children to have an environment that they can survive in.
    Dr. J. Singmaster, Fremont, CA
    PS. To send to Speaker Pelosi use

  33. Who do you want to be on the other end of the line when you dial 9-1-1. As for me, I hope it’s Ralph Nader. I suggest we put him on the other end of the line. Otherwise we’re likely to get someone who tells us that they’d like to help but the solution is “off the table.”

  34. Since just being alive produces carbon dioxide, if you really feel it is catastrophic and want to do something useful and not be a hypocrit I think you have only one option left. This would also help out with dan bloom’s coment #33. and for another reality check…

  35. There are many reasons to doubt that carbon dioxide has caused or will ever cause our climate temperature to increase.

    Primary among them is evidence that the temperature increases during the last 30 years have not occurred as the carbon dioxide-induced warming hypothesis predicts that it will. The troposphere between 1 and 10 Km above ground is not warming as rapidly as the surface temperature predicts. This comparison is a primary test of the underlying science of carbon dioxide-induced warming and the data show that the hypothesis has failed the test.

    Further, the ongoing warming ceased after 1997 and we are seeing a bit of cooling in spite of a 5% increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the past 11 years. The numeric Global Circulation Models (GCMs do not predict that cessation of warming.

    Recent modifications to the GCMs have enabled them to once again draw a line that follows the climate temperature signal. The modelers made similar modifications to their arbitrary parameters in order to force the models to follow the cooling that followed the relative warmth of the 1930s. That decade, by the way contains the warmest year since 1880, the year that widespread temperature measurement began.

    I am afraid that all of this demonstrates the power of a couple of dozen arbitrary parameters in a polynomial expression. Recently, a group of graduate students developed an algorithm that will draw a picture of an elephant from a linear numeric series, such a the set of numbers between 1 and 100. It does not challenge the imagination to conceive of an algorithm that could draw an elephant or even trace the temperature history of the past 130 years with the ever increasing concentration of carbon dioxide as the input file.

    I think that is exactly what the GCM developers have done. I also think that their models have little if anything to do with reality.

  36. I thought that this article was on what to do about global climate change. I didn’t think it was about whether there is global climate change.

    Many of us have read elsewhere about whether there is global climate change, and have decided, after careful consideration,that the rate of change is being assisted by our Co2 production.

  37. I think the best thing we can do is nothing. Otherwise, by following Kyoto, we will certainly end up wrecking our econonmies while achieve no significant impact on temperature change.

  38. Deb Carey

    No one disputes that carbon dioxide contributes to the warming of the climate. However, the data (and models) indicate that the contribution of carbon dioxide is a small part of the overall warming and that there is no reason to fear that it will spin out of control.

  39. paulm

    I don’t know why they believe that the models that they have developed will project future climate temperatures. Pride of authorship perhaps.

    The models have failed every test and have required massive infusion of new parameters and unsubstantiated estimates of various parameters; the effects of clouds for example.

    Yet, the continue to patch the models and make brave new pronouncements about the future of our climate. And, each time they are proven as dead wrong as Paul Ehrlich was about population growth and food supplies.

  40. yes, and the sad thing is, the climate models keep being wrong about how bad things are. it would be more considerate of them to fail in the direction of chicken little so we wouldn’t have to worry.

  41. Many recent comments here seem to have one thing in common: the desire to continue with things as they are, to “not worry” and get back to focusing on “the economy”—as though THE economy could possibly be separate from THE environment. It’s all connected, folks!
    Even IF all the climate models are wrong, a huge point is being missed here: we humans are clearly polluting water, food, air and land, gobbling up habitat and increasing extinctions, creating dead zones in the oceans and clear-cutting mountainsides, and on and on and on… all too clearly in the WRONG direction. Do we need computer models to tell us we need to change our way of living, when scientists are, for example, finding that our drinking water is laced with perscription drug wastes and plastic by products, et al?
    It is clearly not a good idea to keep going in our current consume-without-limit ways. And that is what bothers me about saying “Go back to sleep, everything’s fine, let global corps and the free market take care of the planet…”
    It helps to look at every issue from the largest perspective, not the narrowest. How do things on planet earth look from there? Do we need to make major changes now or don’t we?

  42. Interesting analogy. The smoke in the experiment was fake; there was no fire. The smoke was used to try to trick the people into doing something that there was no need to do. Whether or not carbon dioxide has much influence on temperature, there are groups using ridiculous hyperbolic alarmist conjectures to try to force people to do what they want. Most do it for their own interests, either making money from grants or selling fake solutions, or to advance their political agenda of more government control over your life. If they honestly believed there was any real chance of danger from heat or tipping points they would be advocating immediate steps or research to lower the temperature directly like orbital sails or atmospheric aerosols to reflect sunlight. Trying to reduce the acceleration of our CO2 release has got to be the slowest and most inefficient way possible to affect temperature, so people who advocate for it are de facto admitting that they don’t think there is any prospect of real danger. When a flood is coming you put up sandbags or move to higher ground, you don’t start emptying the ocean with a bucket.

  43. carbon compounds in the atmosphere are the earth’s surface’s insulation. removing them lowers the temperature. eliminating human carbon pollution and using whatever means are at our disposal to put carbon back in the ground are the most cost effective ways we have to reduce the temperature.

    you should be embarrassed not to know that. the greenhouse effect itself is one of the most important life-giving aspects of this planet.

    ok, so, other sandbags. research into geoengineering — as opposed to geogardening, aka stewardship — is ongoing but effectiveness, costs, and known side effects so far are pretty big obstacles. removing insulation from the atmosphere is the best first thing to try.

    now, as to the other thing, compared to warrantless wiretaps, weakening habeas corpus, militarization of civil affairs, and other executive branch idolatry — not being a big civil liberties geek myself, i’d have to guess installing windmills, using farming methods that are better for the soil and the water systems, making air conditioners more efficient, and requiring better insulating windows — would not be high on any government watchdog’s list of anti-democratic conspiracies. not in this day and age.

  44. the debate about whether or not CO2 emissions effect earth temperature is no longer a debate. it has been basically proven. the debate is what they effect of an increased earth temperture will have on the human population. there is no simulator for the earth’s climates so the idea is to prevent significant increases in green house gas emmissions. why? because we don’t know what the outcome will conclude but every scientist can image that the conclusion will not be pretty. its not our position here on the earth to mess with overall natural climates…

  45. hapa –
    I understand the greenhouse effect well enough to know that it has no similarity whatsoever to insulation which works by suppressing convection. You should be embarrassed to try to discuss it in those terms. By the way, carbon is a very small part of it compared to water vapor and its effect is logarithmic. It is also clear that none of the remedies suggested by the author or by yourself would have any measurable effect on temperature.
    On the political side, neither the Kyoto Protocol, its successor, nor any of the global warming bills being considered in congress are about windmills, farming, air conditioners or windows. They are all methods to use taxes, cap and trade, and regulations to control and to redistribute wealth to areas the politicians feel are worthy.

  46. i was being like the wizard of oz.

    the windmill stands for power systems that do not burn hydrocarbons and therefore do not add hat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, for nearly the same cost.

    the farm that’s good for soil and water includes soil management — keeping carbon locked in plants and soil — and reforestation to draw more carbon out of the air, along with creating less pollution, for nearly the same cost.

    the air conditioner stands for devices, including cars, with lower energy use, to speed up the elimination of fossil fuels and thus carbon pollution among other things, and to reduce their total cost of operation.

    and the window stands for greening our buildings, so less energy is needed to heat and cool them, light them, heat their water, and run their appliances. they also use less fresh water, are made of recycled or renewable materials, have less poison in them, and cost less to live in.

    i think several of the mitigation-and-adaptation bills in congress are reprehensible — promising both environmental and economic damage — but what else is new. it’s been a while since the government spent money that created more money in the economy instead of rewarding friends and, lately, punishing political opponents. and i don’t think cap-and-trade is a good strategy, because of that.

    but we know now that there’s such a thing as too much carbon dioxide in the air, the same way there can be too much mercury in a fish. eat that fish, it hurts your body; leave that, yes, insulation in the air, and it cooks water and nutrients out of the soil, wrecks the food cycle, acidifies the ocean, melts the snowpacks and glaciers that provide much of our drinking water, turns the weather against us, and eventually floods our coastal cities. among other things.

    it’s your future, though. you should be more worried about the moral hazard: people who sell dangerous fuels, spending their big profits to prevent the danger from being prevented. those people are much more powerful, dishonest, and dangerous to you than anyone here is.

  47. *heat-trapping. if it also traps hats, nobody’s told me.

  48. I thought climate-disruption denial had finally died. I’m impressed to see you all still have your thumbs in your ears and are humming loud about bad science to yourself. If you are honestly curious about the science then don’t look to us but turn to the scientists. Go to any peer-reviewed science journal and type in “climate change” for a search.


    Read the abstracts. Not one scientist will deny it’s happening. They will only argue about where and who will get hurt worst.

    The emotion you skeptics are experiencing is fear. Your response is to sit in your seats and think the woman is pretending and the kid isn’t really upset and that they really just want some money from us or the government. Or instead you can accept the possibiity that this might be a true emergency. You can act like true humans and step up and care for them.

    Psychologically, I can tell you it is much more healthy for you to do the caring for others. You will experience less anger, less anxiety, less fear, if you just step forward and help out.

  49. Jenn

    No, the hypothesis of carbon dioxide-caused climate warming is not proven. In fact, the point of my first post was that the hypothesis has failed a critical test; thirty years of high quality satellite data have shown that the troposphere at elevations from 1 to 10 km is not warming faster than the surface. This failure, if substantiated by other researchers, will constitute proof that carbon dioxide is not the cause of the great majority of the warming that we have observed.

    The reason that this observation is so critical is because of the mechanism by which carbon dioxide warms the surface of the earth. During the day, the surface of the earth receives energy from the sun faster than it can radiate heat back toward the sun because the sun is hotter; and the surface and atmosphere warm. At night, the surface radiates heat through the atmosphere into outer space faster than outer space radiates heat toward the earth because the earth is warmer than outer space; and the surface and the atmosphere cool. What we call greenhouse gases, primarily water, but including methane, nitrous oxide carbon dioxide and several other minor players absorb some of the photons of infrared radiation (heat) that the surface of the earth emits.

    Each molecule absorbs specific wavelengths of outgoing infrared radiation. Carbon dioxide absorbs in a few relatively narrow bands of infrared wavelengths. Water vapor absorbs in broad bands of infrared wavelengths. That and its relatively higher concentration- tens of thousands of parts per million, vs. 380 parts per million for carbon dioxide- means that water vapor does about 95 percent of the heat absorbing work and the remainder of the gases do the rest.

    When a molecule of carbon dioxide (or other gas) absorbs a photon of infrared radiation, two things happen. One the molecule increases its speed, and the second is that it emits a photon of infrared radiation at a slightly longer, i.e. less energetic wavelength. The re-emission direction is random. On average, just over half of the re-emission will be toward outer space and just less than half will be back toward the earth. If the earth were flat and infinite, the distribution would be exactly 50:50.

    The result is that heat must accumulate in the troposphere and the troposphere must warm more rapidly than the surface in order to have enough heat to warm the surface. The data show that the surface is warming faster than the troposphere, which means one of two things. Either the surface temperature record overestimates the warming; a very real possibility given the poor estimation of urban heat island effects or the contribution of carbon dioxide to the warming is a small portion of the total warming.

    If we change the surface temperature record so that it shows warming at a slower rate than the troposphere, the model projections of future temperature increases will lessen by an order of magnitude. If we accept that the carbon dioxide-caused portion of the warming is as small as the data show it to be, then the re-formulated models will show future temperature increases to be modest, i.e. a few tenths of a degree. In either case, there is no cause for concern.

  50. Audrey Schulman

    The skepticism about the claim that carbon dioxide is warming our climate and might lead to catastrophic changes in the near future has not died. To the contrary, science that conflicts with those claims is accumulating at an ever-increasing rate.

    I went to your site, Pub Med. I searched on the term “climate change” and as I expected found only one article in the first 50 (of 4,543) that contained an assessment of the carbon dioxide-induced climate-warming hypothesis. That article, “Human-induced Arctic Moistening.” Science. 2008 Apr 25;320(5875):518-20 Min SK, Zhang X, Zwiers F. appeared to be a comparison of measured moisture in the Arctic environment to the moisture levels predicted by some 22 of the (of 40 or so) General Circulation Models (GCMs). I have not yet read this article only the abstract so I cannot comment on it.

    All the rest were article by health experts, zoologists, biologists etc that discussed the possible effects of future climate change. It seems that all biological scientists who write about the possible effects of future warming take the IPCC projections to be gospel and proceed from there to extrapolate future events from laboratory studies and IPCC temperature projections. I cannot consider any of those to be endorsements of the IPCC position; they are mere uncritical acceptances of the IPCC position, which the various authors have not analyzed.

    If you want to find the best source of information about the IPCC procedures for making projections you should go to the source, the IPCC assessment reports. You can find links to the IPCC Working Group 1 technical assessment here I realize that the source may be distasteful to you, but they have provided links to Adobe format copies of the technical assessment report of Working Group, which are unavailable from the IPCC. IPCC released its Summary for Policy Makers a couple of months ago but will not release the technical assessment documents for another 4- to 6- months. In the interim, the non-scientists at the IPCC, those who prepare the Summary for Policy Makers will review and edit the draft Working Group draft reports. In IPCC’s own words, they will make only “Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.”

    Anyway, you will find all of the technical assessments that the IPCC working group scientists made in conjunction with preparation of the most recent assessment report. You will find that there is little to no observational data that demonstrate that carbon dioxide is causing the climate to warm. What you will find is copious references to the outputs of various GCMs that project (note IPCC does not call them predictions) future temperature changes. You will find that for the most part the projections are for temperature increases in the range or 2 to 2.5 Celsius degrees during the next 100 years. If you really look hard at the projections and their own admitted imprecision in their estimates of the effects of clouds on climate warming you can discover that their projection is for 2.5 +/- 75.0 (one standard deviation from the mean) Celsius degrees. Yes, the standard deviation is 30 times higher than the projected change. I have some difficulty believing the IPCC.

    What I fear is not changing my ways or providing help. In fact, I am doing just that. If this baseless claim goes unchallenged, we will self-induce a genuine disaster. What I fear is the needless suffering of millions (perhaps billions) of disadvantaged humans all over the planet if we rush headlong into economy-curtailing activities because or our fear of an unfounded claim that carbon dioxide is causing climate change.

    I do not feel fear and anxiety. Psychologically, I am fine, thank you very much. Mostly I feel frustration that journalists who do not understand the science behind the issue claim to be instant experts after having skimmed the IPCC’s Summary for Policy Makers and then proceed to deluge the print and electronic media with wholehearted support for what appears to be a dishonest process.

  51. hapa

    The study to which I referred is not 16 years old. The study appeared in November (I think (I do not have a pornographic memory and cannot recall all of the details)) of 2007. I have not yet seen any critical responses from IPCC or its acolytes. I have not noticed my personal skepticism rising and falling in concert with the election cycles; it has remained relatively constant. Question. Are the cited political models more or less accurate than the GCMs?

    I looked at the article that you cited. You are correct in that between 2004 and 2007 researchers at the University of Washington (I believe the man’s name was Woo) questioned the analytical techniques that Dr. Christy was using to analyze the satellite temperature data. There ensued a back and forth among the interested parties and a settlement of the issue. The result was that Christy modified his technique and a second organization, which disagreed on some minor detail, began providing an independent report of the satellite data. The two versions now agree within a few hundredths of a degree and everyone seems happy.

    Dr Christy and some co-workers published the article to which I referred. They compared the output from several of the GCMs to both versions of the satellite temperature data.

  52. the political model was one polling agency’s chart of responses to questions about the environment and global warming over more than a decade. it showed precipitous drops in concern about global warming among self-reported republicans in 2000 and 2004.

    you don’t need a memory. you just need to be able to do a web search. we can do this for weeks, if you want. you put up an argument and i’ll kill it with a couple quick web searches.

    ok, here. john christy has an entry in wikipedia. it’s very flattering toward him. here’s what that entry says about the nature of the work he does:

    Unlike some other major climate data sets, the satellite data are constantly being refined and adjusted as new discoveries are made in the relatively new science of remote sensing. Notable adjustments were made to compensate for the effects of orbital drift and orbital decay, and most recently to correct an arithmetic error.

    that’s the solid ground of half your argument — “constantly being refined and adjusted.” the other half, about uncertainty relating to clouds and predicting the future, is absolutely true.

    If their area coverage increases as greenhouse gas concentrations increase, the surface temperature response will be muted; if their area coverage decreases, the surface temperature response will be amplified. It is currently unclear how these clouds respond to climate change, and climate models simulate widely varying responses.

    but notice. the problem with clouds is not whether they, and not human pollution and deforestation, are responsible for warming, it is that we don’t know how warming will change the cloud cover. what that error spread says, it seems to me, is that the possibility of losing cloud cover — an unbelievably bad situation — is more likely than gaining enough cloud cover to protect us from the worst effects of extra heat in the system.

    it’s a pendulum, not a one-way ticket in the direction you want it to go. it swings both ways and the center is bad news.

  53. i didn’t find a paper. he talked to the senate, though, and wrote an op-ed for the WSJ. those don’t count as science.

  54. the speech and attached op-ed. (pdf)

    quite a mixed bag, at once quoting lomborg and calling a 10% reduction of fossil fuel use by 2020 “very serious” (when most serious proposals now talk about 20-40% cuts in that timeframe and the one i favor, to beat the clock on peak oil, does an 80% switch), while also saying this:

    Please note, there is no guarantee at all that specific energy policies designed to deal with climate change will actually have the intended effect either in magnitude or sign. Will they produce more or less rain? … no one knows. However, energy policies which address other important issues mentioned above and which include the emphatically desirable goal of affordable energy, and also reduce emissions, are worth pursuing.

  55. hapa

    OK, you got me. The article appeared online at the International Journal of Climatology (a publication of the Royal Meteorological Society in December 2007 not in November as I said. You can see a synopsis of the article on the Science Daily website at

    Of course, the techniques of the satellite measurement of temperature change as technology and knowledge changes. It is an incredibly difficult task, measuring the temperature of the entire atmosphere, except the poles, nearly continuously. The adjustments and refinements have been subtle and small, not enough to change any conclusions that one might make from them. Nearly all researchers agree that the satellite temperature data are more accurate and precise than the surface station data. You can make pettifogging criticisms about the satellite data but none of that changes the fact that the satellites provide the best temperature data available.

    If you’ll look into it, you’ll see that the model projections of cloud cover and the nature of the clouds sometimes causes overestimation of climate temperatures and sometimes causes underestimation of climate temperatures. The error band is approximately +/- 20%. IPCC has no way to know whether the model is giving high results or low results. Standard science technique is to provide an error band around your measurements that is equal to plus or minus one standard deviation. In this case, the estimate for the first projected year would be plus or minus 20%. That would result in a temperature estimate error of something like 3.4%. Because the second year estimate begins with the first year estimate the temperature error for the second year becomes 1.034^2 = 7%. By the time you get to 100 years, the possible error is plus or minus 3000%. I think that is poor information upon which to base a decision to curtail our economy.

    I was not arguing that we can select either higher or lower results from the variation in cloud data. I was arguing that we cannot know which to choose because our understanding of this small part of the science of climate change is so poor that we do not know what to do. I also know that there are many other parts that we do not understand. I also am arguing that these models are poor and are not reliable enough to provide reliable information about future temperature trends.

    I agree, the variation is not a one-way ticket. However, I do not agree that it is a pendulum. It is not even an estimate of the accuracy of the projections. It is an estimate of their precision. The models tell us that the temperature in 100 years will either go up 102.5 degrees or decrease by 97.5 degrees and that the central value of the estimated range is 2.5 degrees. That does not provide information about the future climate; it tells us that the models are useless.

    I wonder if the Republicans felt less concern about global warming after the 2000 and 2004 elections because President Bush, who said that he would not play the game won both elections. I know that I would have been far more concerned had Al Gore won in 2000.

  56. so, you’re a bad gambler. you’re willing to bet everything on one of two possible technological paths — the one that will cost most, by virtue of price of new supply and other pollution externalities — because the full extent of its drastic consequences can’t be predicted 100 years in the future.

    on the basis that the predicting models can’t account for temperature relationships in the least volatile climate region and you hate al gore’s guts.

    and the fact that right now the place is going through incredible shifts, at faster pace than predicted, is ok, because later some other change might moderate it, we can’t say; nor can we say that increasing releases of greenhouse gas from the transformed earth won’t be naturally prevented or balanced; nor can we say that paleoclimatological evidence should be taken into account, i’m guessing?

    not in saying What Will Happen. in assessing risk.

    this is what i hear you arguing. i hear you arguing that we don’t know what will happen to the weather in the future and, so, the right response is to ignore that uncertainty and pour on more uncertainty by adding more of a known catalyst to the process.

    and then you say you’re worried about the economic consequences, as you sit in a country that’s leveraged in every possible direction, with something like 10 million of our 100 million households nearing bankruptcy by a combination of food, fuel, and foreclosure, as i see it.

    foreign lenders and foreign energy suppliers have us by the nuts and you’re afraid of the consequences of changing what we do. i don’t get it.

  57. Dear Audrey,

    A while ago–maybe 8 years, maybe 10, I took this writing class at the Cambridge Center. The best part of it was when the instructor (you) had us select a photo from a pile and create a quickie story about them. I still have bits that I worked on during that class, one I’ve recently revived and is on it’s way to becoming a short story. But I digress–I really wanted to say thanks for this topnotch article. This Friday I’m attending a conference to get a sense of what businesses are really doing in the area of green and guess who the keynote speaker is? Jim Gordon of Cape Wind. Bravo on your article and all your books. Best, Lisa

  58. For those with an open mind, take a moment to look at this from a larger perspective. Climate is always changing with many different cycles influenced by many different variables. A big factor in this debate is how strong an influence is carbon compared to all the other variables. Let’s take a look at what would happen from both points of view.
    One side says that carbon is a minor influence and will be dominated by the other variables. If this is true we can expect this interglacial period to behave like all the other ones in the past. We can expect sea level to go up another 100 feet. It has been rising steadily for the last 18,000 years and should continue to do so. It has risen 300 feet since that time, and in every other interglacial period it typically rises about 400 feet, so we should expect about 100 more. We can also expect another glacial period (the time when the places most humans now live are covered in miles of ice) coming soon. Interglacials (the time when it’s warm and life friendly) are quite predictable and last about 10,000 to 15,000 years. We’ve been enjoying ours for about 12,500 years, so we can expect it to end any time now. The glacials last much longer, more than 100,000 years.
    The other side says that carbon is strong enough to overwhelm all the other variables. If this is true, that 100 foot sea level rise could come more quickly, and we can avoid the pesky glacial period. Since cold kills way more than heat, and CO2 makes plants grow better and produce more food, I’d say it’s a moral imperative that we produce as much CO2 as possible. That way, if they’re correct, we can stave off the next glacial period that would kill the vast majority of all humans, animals, and plants. If they’re wrong, all we’ve done is make it easier to grow food.
    By the way, just so everyone understands how the greenhouse effect works, it doesn’t make things hotter, it makes them less cold. That may sound like the same thing, but it is not. It works mainly to increase minimum temperatures, rather than maximum temperatures. What this means is the Artic gets less cold, the tropics don’t get hotter. The winters get less cold, the summers don’t get hotter. The nights get less cold, the days don’t get hotter. That doesn’t sound so bad to me.
    What about all the other nasty effects? The sea level is a problem, but we were going to have to deal with that anyway. The hurricane thing is unlikely. Weather is generated by temperature differences; by making the artic warmer you reduce the temperature difference between the artic air and the tropical air, therefore you reduce the energy for storms. Of course there would be negative effects, but there would be positive ones too. The whole history of the earth shows that warmer is always better than colder.
    Of course, I’m inclined to think that carbon is not some special magical variable. I think it works like every other variable and will encourage negative feedbacks rather than positive ones; that like everything else it will tend to regress to the mean. Otherwise, in the past, when CO2 concentrations were 20 times higher than they are today, they would have cooked off all life on the planet instead of having periods like the Cambrian explosion of massive biological diversity.

  59. “one side” doesn’t understand that the “other side” has already corrected for all those variables and that’s why the “other side” is scared about what happens next.

    sea level rise is additional sea level rise, not related to ordinary planetary process.

    there is no such thing as a normal interglacial period. like you said, we’ve left our interglacial and have officially entered the “anthropocene,” where orbit and solar activity are no longer drivers of our climate, but recent research indicates that our interglacial period is especially drawn-out and without our intervention could have lasted another 11,000 years (the real duration of the current period) and then some.

    the fact that what we’ve done is so powerful we may have ended the ice age cycle for maybe hundreds of thousands of years, this doesn’t seem to rattle hardcore contrarians. i like that. say one day there’s no effect, say another a rapid change big enough to end glaciation completely is nothing but good news, whatever.

    funny thing, though, if you use up all the groundwater, tear up the mountains and streams, overheat the water cycle, overfish and acidify the oceans, and create worldwide growing conditions to which today’s plant life do not have time to adapt, i don’t know how that makes it “easier to grow food.”

    as for the rest, do your homework somewhere that tells you something, would you? the average temperature in the cambrian period was more than 44°F (forty-four) hotter than it is now. lucky for us, most of the land was at the south pole and that’s where our ancestors lived, in their own little hothouse paradise at the south pole.

    that’s not really the right kind of weather for us….

  60. Quoting hapa:

    “funny thing, though, if you use up all the groundwater, tear up the mountains and streams, overheat the water cycle, overfish and acidify the oceans, and create worldwide growing conditions to which today’s plant life do not have time to adapt, i don’t know how that makes it “easier to grow food.” ”

    Thank you for bringing the discussion back to the full spectrum of destructive changes humans are clarly causing on this planet.
    To look at Global Warming as if it were a separate problem which could be addressed simply and separately from all the others, is dangerously myopic.

    “The economy” is a fake entity, nothing more than shifting paper and “debt pyrimiding” IF it isn’t based on the robust health and stability of natural resources, because it is healthy natural resources which consititue REAL WEALTH, ie, the REAL ECONOMY .

  61. -100 feet represents the total sea level rise if all ice on earth is melted. By what magical method does your CO2 create water for additional sea level rise?
    -When you site Wikipedia as your source for ‘recent research’ I shudder at the state of education.
    -More straw man arguments. I’m not talking about pollution or over-fishing, etc. I oppose limiting carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide dramatically increases plant growth and crop yields. This is why commercial greenhouses commonly add CO2 at levels 3-4 times higher than our current atmosphere.
    -Temperature estimates for the Cambrian explosion are around 70°F. Current average temperature is around 57°F – 59°F. (Funny how the estimated temperature rise for the last 100 years is smaller than the estimated measurement error of the current temperature.) Where do you get your 44°F from?
    -If you think the Cambrian land mass was centered at the South Pole, then you must think today’s landmass is centered on the North Pole. Yes most of the land was in the southern hemisphere instead of the northern, but a larger percentage of land was between -45 and 45 than today.

  62. hapa

    You are attributing statements to me that I did not make. Go back to the beginning of this discussion. I said that no physical data indicate that the climate warming is attributable to a significant degree on carbon dioxide. I also said that the only evidence that IPCC has presented is model output. I have said that the models that they are using are trash. If there is no AGW, there is no need for us to try to stop it. As Borg says, the best course is to prepare and adapt. There is no known catalyst (I assume you meant carbon dioxide). If you know of some proof of the AGW hypothesis, other than computer models, let’s hear about it. Quit trying to introduce evidence by inference.

    Is the climate warming? Yes. Is the climate warming a rate that is faster than any time in history? Absolutely not.

    As for paleoclimatological data, the 2003 ice core data show that historically temperature increases have always preceded increases in carbon dioxide concentration. It appears that happened this time also. Glacier recessions apparently began in the first half of the 1800s, long before carbon dioxide concentrations began increasing. Al Gore is still using the 1993 ice core data, which has a temporal resolution of about 1,000 years and does not show, as the 2003 ice core data (with 100 year resolution) that the temperature increases always precede the carbon dioxide concentrations. Do you think he is ignorant? If not, what is the explanation for his using superseded data that support his agendum.

    You speak glibly of pollution externalities, another imaginary harm touted loudly by radical activist groups.

    Where did you come up with the statistic that 10% of American households are nearing bankruptcy? Another of your nightmares? I understand that approximately 10% of all subprime loans are in trouble, but those are a small proportion of all mortgage loans.

    I am not afraid of changing what we do. Quite the contrary, I am I favor of doing everything that is economically viable to reduce our dependence on imported oil. Using coal, building nuclear come to mind. I would love to be on the fantail of the last oil tanker leaving the Middle East, using my middle finger goodbye wave. I can see no way that wind, solar, or biofuels can provide a significant portion of our energy needs in the foreseeable future.

    I think that you make things up to make your points. Do you work for WWF, NRDC, EDF, Greenpeace, FOE, or one of the other radical activist groups? If not, you should apply for work with one of them. Your propaganda techniques are quite similar to theirs.

    I will not waste any more time responding to your fantasies. If you have some solid and verifiable evidence, tell us about it.

  63. Is Lee Iacocca a CLIMATE HERO?

    Please consider, now, a point of view to which I subscribe from Lee Iacocca that might be helpful here.

    Lee Iacocca Says:

    Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course’

    Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned ‘Titanic’.

    You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up.

    These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: ‘Where have all the leaders gone?’ Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage………. and common sense?

    Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.

    Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening.

    Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope……………….If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this:

    You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action….. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close.

    Sincerely yours,


    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

  64. BE A STARVATION FIGHTER (See my comment 34) by calling for the end to bioethanol subsidies. That will also make you a climate hero as recent data are showing that trying to plant corn instead of food crops will be releasing more GHGs than will be contained by bioethanol. Don’t write more cloudy comments here, send e-mails to your Congress persons with copy to Speaker Pelosi at, calling for the end of those subsidies to get corn freed up to ship to many countries.
    The president claimed recently that bioethanol is necessary for national security, unaware as always, that if all our land could be growing corn for bioethanol, probably the amount of bioethanol obtained would barely fuel all our military operations. Of course our fighting men might have to make the sacrifice of eating mud cakes as food would be hard to come by. But hey— we all have to make sacrifices, except the president, in the battle against terrorists and evildoers.
    Dr. J. Singmaster

  65. Steve, thanks so much for the breath of fresh air (pun definitely intended!) Maia

  66. I dress as a Polar Bear and stand on the street corner of busy intersections.I hold a sign that says “Stop Global Warming” I wave and smile People in SUV’s big trucks wave and smile back.I drive an ageing Prius..I have it all decorated signs that say “Stop Global Warming”.”No war for Oil”etc.The message is that fancy cars are not important..I attend meetings in the Polar bear suit.I wish others would get out there in Polar Bear suits bec.the media is so controlled that the citizens hardly stand a chance of knowing what the World’s best scientists are saying.I learn from others in the Green Party.I spend no time reading blogs from Oil industry plants.

  67. Jean,

    Wear a hair shirt and stand sweltering in a polar bear suit if those are your choices of modes of worship at the altar of the new environmentalist religion.

    But please, do not press for action in response to computer model calculations that, based on a discredited hypothesis (carbon dioxide-induced climate change). The actions sought by the radical environmentalists will cause harm and death, just as falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater will cause harm and death.

    You can ignore the results of valid scientific investigations if you wish, but by so doing you should forfeit the rights to claim to be informed on the subject and to offer advice to others.

    No one who reads the newspaper or watches news shows can possibly with a straight face, claim that the public is not inundated, by the messages of the false prophets of doom.

  68. The oldest Prius is 5 years old…not bad, that is not yet considered a beater.

  69. Sad to see commentary here devolving to a familiar mean and personally insulting tone so ubiquitous on the internet.

    Orion comment threads have been among the most respectful and non-inflammatory. That is why I participate.

    Making the effort to deal with hard truths and disagreements without becoming rude and vindictive, is an essential part of what we humans must do in order to survive. Together. Whatever the weather, natural or political.

  70. This is one of the best and most persuasive articles on taking action on climate change I have seen for a long time. Thank you Audrey Schulman!

  71. I’m proud to say that I was born green back in 1952 when Things (including the Climate) were much safer, sweeter and easier. My grandfather was a scrap dealer – one of the first Recyclers in the county.

    Luckily, because of my Parentage, I started young – at age 6 as an avid cyclist and now bike everywhere – at least 1 hour a day, accruing some 10 miles daily on the odometer.

    Today, after 55 years, it’s horrifying to see what’s happening to our only Home, the Planet Earth because of Greed and Over-Comsumption.

    REALLY: Ask yourself: How much do you really need? Study people in 3rd world countries and see what they exist on. Cut down and cut out the frivolties in life. You can do it. It can be done. The effect is a much healthier YOU. The effect is a much healthier PLANET.

    How I become a GREEN Hero – as the Article stands should be extended to ALL THINGS GREEN. I feel it is it’s much more than Climate that is is ‘at arms’ here. On a daily basis, I make it a point to meet people and instill in them a Sense of Duty to do something green every day. My Grass-Roots Mode is through a 24.5 inch Toy Frog with an 11 inch Grin that I’ve cleverly named GORF (which is FROG back-words).

    Wherever I go (stationed and housed in Chicago – now known as
    chicaGORF, IL USA) I meet People – once total strangers who will come up to me – as they are curious as to what I’m doing walking around Town with a 24.5 inch Toy Frog.

    Once this ‘proverbial ice’ is broken, it’s easy to engage these folks in a conversation.

    Let’s not forget, most people see a large urban area as a place where people just are not friendly, who won’t help you if you’re laying in a pool of blood or are not neighborly.

    HOWEVER: GORF is the perfect PLOY-TOY to do my part in saving the Planet.


    DateLine: Sunday, June 8, 2008
    Circa 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

    The South Loop area of Chicago is known as Printer’s Row. I guess those folks never learned to ‘write’ cursive so they band here, as printers. However, the 1st Weekend of June is earmarked as
    PRINTER’s ROW BOOK FAIR, sponsored by the Literary Giants of the Chicago Tribune.

    The day was sticky and humid. The temperatures climbed well into the upper 80s. The week previously, tornados criss-crossed the Midwest. It rained sporadically both days…

    However, on Sunday around 12:30 a downpour came out of nowhere with the winds first blowing from the southwest into this neighborhood just south of Chicago’s Loop; then rapidly winds from the north collided with the SWerlies. It was something out of twilight zone.

    I sought cover, putting GORF back into his travel bag in a loft building as about 5 of us looked out of the window as books and chairs flew all over. It wasn’t a tornadic funnel that spun up the block; then down the block. It was the winds of a twister coming in on the air-stream high above the skyscrapers.

    Chicago is know for its Crime & Cold. Crime happens for a vareity of reasons. Cold is because we’re located ON THE LAKE FRONT. However, for the 34 years I’ve resided in ‘The Windy City’ I never experienced such a climactic event.

    Yes, the Climate is changing and it’s all mankind’s fault. He/she/they are responsible for the Death of Planet Earth. Before cars and all the earth-sucking devices were developed (prior to 1904 when Autos were invented), much of the Planet was intact.

    The Book, 50 Things To Do to Save the Planet was published in 1989. It’s almost 20 years old; yet it lists all the things we’re still trying to accomplish today. Granted we are greener than we were and GREEN is the New Black, it’s very scary to see the Wrath of Nature happening in greater torrents on a daily basis now.

    Perhaps the ones we should really emulate are the Amish and those Tribes whose life-styles are simpler and greener.

    As Smokey, The Bear said: “Only you can prevent Forest Fires.” Only you can save The Planet. By doing something GREEN every Hour, you can rest better at night; knowing that perhaps the Sun will rise on the next day. No one can say if the Planet will be ‘saved’ and if extinctions will ‘partially stop’ but by NOT doing something we are definitely sealing our Fate.

    GORF Werks Central (R) is the Production Company of all of my GREEN EVENTS, Books, Talks, etc. I perform for THE GREEN MOVEMENT.

    Feel free to comment on my blog called KOOPERSMITHin above or via email at:

    With Articles like ‘How to be a Climate Hero’ we can all be transformed to ACT into the ‘New Reality’ that even Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone couldn’t conceive.

    Monday, June 9, 2008 – 2:53 PM CST

  72. When I dress as Polar Bear and stand on the corner I have noticed women in SUV’s are very supportive as well as young men age 18 to 20;;THEY CRACK UP LAUGHING and waving..The frog(gorf) story is inspiring..Thanks..we could all go out and do something publically that is positive and kindly..Jean

  73. An incredible article…and really inspiring words/actions/thoughts from all those who’ve commented! Very moving on two fronts! 😉

    Between climate change and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s made me think alot about all the environmental and money saving things my Grandma did (and still does) as part of her everyday life…things she’s carried with her as growing up through 2 world wars, the Depression and raising 8 kids alone. Too many to mention, but I now find myself doing these some of these things at first what I thought was either “out of the blue” or being a 30 something in this new age of environmentalism and stewardship. Until I stopped and realized…it was Grandma that taught me these practices with her actions…she never told me why she did them, but now I know. Like saving bread wrappers for food bags and containers for instance. She must have a 100 things she has done that she’s learned all on her own would have save money, decrease her carbon footprint (although she’d never call or recognize it as that) and live a greener life all around.

    It makes me wonder why for the duration of this war, and being tied in to the climate crisis, why our “leaders”, those who are supposed to be the ones standing up on the train snapping us out of our have not reintroduced ideas such as Victory Gardens or War Stamps…that we are doing the modern day equivalents en masse like tire drives, etc. There are parallels to the larger greater good of the country (and now the world) that I see between the US in the 20’s and 40’s that I see now…it’s just that then they seemed to do so much as a society for the greater good…today we are so centered on ourselves, our luxuries and what “we’d have to give up”, that the masses just want to keep doing the status quo eating their processed fast food meals, watching the 58″ plasma screens, driving their Hummers and FJ cruisers…hopefully you get my point.

    Anyway…THANK YOU to the author and to those folks here who’ve written inspiring words. I’m glad that I can stand in your midst…hopefully between us all, the author and my Grandma, we can snap some other folks out of the collective haze and really start changing the world for the better.

  74. Giving up the ‘wars’ in Iraq and Afghanistan would be a good thing to do.

  75. There is no causal relationship between carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and the temperature of the climate. There may be a converse relationship, i.e. increasing temperature may cause increasing carbon dioxide concentration, but even that is not proven.

    The hypothesis that carbon dioxide has and is causing our climate to warm has failed several crucial tests. First of all, in spite of continuing and unattenuated increases in carbon dioxide concentration, the climate has not warmed since 1997.

    Second, the models do not describe the measured temperature profile in the troposphere. The models predict that the temperature at 3 to 10 km altitude will increase 3 times faster than the surface temperature. The satellite and high altitude balloon data show that to be false.

    It is time to acknowledge that the IPCC is wrong and get on with our lives.

  76. It really is about time that people realised that they are responsible for climate change, stop denying it, stop trying to protect their comfortable lives, take responsibility for their actions and get on with changing their lives to ameliorate the effects of climate change. Head-in-sand time is over!

  77. Col,

    Have you reviewed the science behind the IPCC claims? Do you have any rationale as to why we should continue to behave as if the hypothesis, which has failed to describe reality, has any value? Do you know of any physical data that demonstrate that the carbon dioxide-induced warming hypothesis is true?

    Scientists discard hypotheses that fail to describe the real world. Religious beliefs do not have to be able to describe reality in order to survive. Into which category shall we place belief in the IPCC position?

  78. Dennis, yes, I have reviewed the science and having been a university lecturer for 22 years I think I understand the arguments. I know there is a lot of junk, propagated and sponsored by vested interests, wanting us to believe that climate change does not exist, or if it does, that humans have no part in it. Those arguments are usually entirely driven by self interest. So, I do what I can to limit my carbon footprint and will continue to do so. A low carbon lifestyle is not as difficult, or as scary, as many of the deniers think. In fact it is very liberating to take some control of your own life and not rely so heavily on oil. You should try it some time soon.

  79. Col,

    I know of no one who denies that the climate is warming. Climate change is not the issue. The issue is the cause of the climate change. I offered two examples of why I believe that carbon dioxide is not the cause of the ongoing climate change. One was that in spite of the fact that the carbon dioxide concentration has increased at its historical rate for the past decade and is now about 5% higher now than it was in 1970, the atmosphere has not warmed during the past decade. I did not mention, but also know that the present temperature is below the lower error band that IPCC claimed for its models.

    I also mentioned that the data show that the stratosphere, between 3 and 10 km is not warming 3.5 times faster than the surface, as the carbon dioxide-induced warming hypothesis demands. In fact, the surface is warming faster than the stratosphere, which is impossible if carbon dioxide is responsible for the warming. As you know the carbon dioxide hypothesis assumes that carbon dioxide in the stratosphere will absorb some of the heat radiated from the earth at night and will re-radiate equally in all directions (i.e. up, down and sideways). Because only some of the heat returns to the surface, the stratosphere must absorb more of the heat, exiting the surface than it returns to the surface, ergo, the stratosphere must warm faster.

    I did not mention, but am sure that you know that the IPCC hypothesis assumes that the increasing warmth in the atmosphere will cause the concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere to increase and that most of the future warming that IPCC projects is due to the increased water vapor concentration and not to the increased carbon dioxide concentration. Did you also know that neither NASA nor any other investigator has been able to document an increase in the water vapor concentration in the atmosphere during the past 30 years?

    Your response was to allude to rumors that “there is a lot of junk, propagated and sponsored by vested interests”. The same old tired ad hominem arguments that seem to be a primary tenet of the environmental religion, which have nothing at all to do with the technical argument. As a matter of fact, two of the most vocal and articulate scientists who doubt the carbon dioxide hypothesis, John Christy and Roy Spencer work for the same agency as Jim Hansen, the patron saint of warmists NASA. A third, Richard Lindzen, holds an endowed chair at MIT. How is it that these scientists and many others like them are driven by self-interest and Hansen is not?

    You close by invoking the need to reduce oil consumption apparently, using that need as an excuse to reduce energy consumption precipitously thereby plunging hundreds of millions of our poorer citizens and those living in poverty throughout the world deeper into economic misery. However, that too is a red herring; it is not a viable reason to take any action. I happen to agree that we should reduce our dependence on oil. Not because I believe that using it is causing catastrophe, but because I recognize that its supply is finite. Ultimately, we all will have to stop using oil. I do not think that the end of oil is eminent. I know that there are a few hundred billion barrels available on our continental shelf and in the ANWAR, and happen to believe that we can extract and use them safely. I also know that the DOE estimates that there is approximately a trillion barrels (more than is in the entire Middle East) in oil shale in the American Rockies. These sources are available to us. Their extraction will be expensive and the increasing price for oil will make alternatives more and more economically feasible. New technology will ultimately end the oil age, just as new technology ended the Stone Age. We still have plenty of stones but we don’t use them so much now.

    Why don’t you respond to the issues? Explain to us how the data are compatible with the IPCC hypothesis. Thanks.

  80. EVEN IF global warming is not caused by human activity, there is NO UPSIDE to continuing to pollute our air, water and soil with oil, coal, shale,etc. emissions and by-products.

    This clear and unarguable truth about the need to cut-down on/eliminate fossil fuels seems to get lost in the “who’s right about carbon dioxide” debate and others like it.

    The USA is the world’s per capita greatest polluter, and waster of energy/resources of all kinds. SO it makes sense that we should start HERE and NOW reducing our use of fossil fuel in every way possible, each and every one of us.

    Arguments to “get on with our lives” and start drilling in wilderness areas that are already scarce and threatened for other reasons, are irresponsible bordering on immoral.

    No matter what the models say or the counter arguments, we Americans need to lead the way because we are already leading the pack as polluters and wasters.

    So there can be no “getting on with our lives” as they are now. We have to make changes. They don’t have to be drastic. Steady reasonable changes in everything we do, and how we do it, can get a powerful force moving, until the momentum of change itself becomes in our favor instead of the inertia of fear and denial.

    During the second World War, people supported and admonished each other in the direction of living more simply, saving things, donating, recycling, re-using, repairing, sharing!

    Why can’t we urge/help/educate each other deliberately today ina similar spirit? Peer pressure/approval works like nothing else!

    Sure it would be wonderful to have inspiring, far-seeing leaders in office. Let’s hope it’s not too late for that.

    But meanwhile, we have to stop arguing about climate models and get busy inspiring each other to stop poisoning the planet and treat all resources with respect and care.

  81. Maia said:
    >> But meanwhile, we have to stop arguing about climate models and get busy inspiring each other to stop poisoning the planet and treat all resources with respect and care.<<

    Yes indeed. I have been through all the climate sceptic arguments a hundred times and I don't intend wasting time playing verbal ping pong. It is the time to do something, now. Like I said, living a low impact – low carbon life is not hard and can even be fun! Just do it Dennis.

  82. Maia,

    I dispute your unsupported contention that we Americans are wasting resources. We are using the resources available to provide ourselves with a comfortable, healthy and safe existence. I see no waste in that.

    I also dispute your unsupported contention that we are polluting the air, land and water. You need only to look at the historical data on the EPA website to see enormous decreases in the concentrations of pollutants everywhere. We are not “poisoning the planet”. If you believe that we are, show us some data. Keep in mind that we will have to interpret your data in view of the fact that Americans (and others in developed economies) are living longer, more comfortable lives than any other society in all of human history.

    Well-developed economies are willing and able to support the activities that eliminate the adverse effects of industry. The worst environments exist in poor and underdeveloped countries. There is no “unarguable (sic) truth about the need to cut-down on/eliminate fossil fuels”. I see no need at all for Americans to change the quantities of fossil fuels that we use. The need to do so will be economic; it will be in the form of prices so high that other means of providing energy will take over, when it comes.

    Wilderness is less scarce today than it was 50 years ago, largely because of improved farming methods that allow production of more and higher quality foods on less land. The areas of forest and wilderness areas have been increasing for a long time. If you wish to see the scale of the proposed oil development relative to the total size of ANWAR, just throw a dime on your six-person dining table. Very little wilderness will go away.

    Of course, we will make changes to our methods for doing things. Those changes occur continually and are likely to occur continually into the distant future. I cannot think of many things that we do today that we did in 1900. Can you? I have no idea what we will be doing in 2100. Do you?

    During WWII, the axis powers controlled access to many of the natural resources needed to maintain an industrial society. Rubber and aluminum were 2 of many. Our society rallied to conserve and recycle many of the necessities not because they were used up, but because our fascist enemies controlled their sources. We found bauxite in Arkansas and Jamaica. Ameripol Synpol devised a method for the manufacture of synthetic (butyl) rubber. We innovated and we overcame. However, it had nothing to do with the current insanity of our waste of time, money and natural resources to recycle things that we do not need to recycle. Some of what we waste money recycling, i.e. paper and plastic, would be put to better use as fuel for electric generation.

    I think that you need to step back from the negative interpretations of our existence that pervades activist websites and look at the bigger picture. That picture shows that humans who are lucky enough to live in developed, industrial, market driven economies are thriving by every objective measure. I do not think that anyone needs to apologize for that.

  83. Col,

    Well, if you have been through all of the arguments a hundred times, you should have the information right at your fingertips. You should be able to answer my questions in just about as long as it took you to put together your most recent response.

    I have provided three meteorological observations that appear to me to directly contradict the notion that carbon dioxide is the cause of the ongoing warming of our climate. If you have information that demonstrates some flaw in my reasoning, please let us all in on it.

    By the way, I am disinclined to take detrimental actions in response to unsupported rumor.

  84. Dennis, I see no point in arguing with you as it is a waste of time and energy; I prefer to use both on mitigating the human effects of climate change. My only hope is that one day you will realise that your high energy use, polluting lifestyle has an enormous impact on the planet and the other people that inhabit it.

  85. Col,

    I am disappointed that you will not engage on this subject. I believe that the failures of the carbon dioxide-based warming models to represent the behavior of the atmosphere accurately to be a fatal flaw to the concept that carbon dioxide is causing the warming. There may be some reason why IPCC and others do not agree, but I have been unable to find any explanation of the reasons why we should ignore this blatant failure of the models.

    I was hoping that you could describe the rationale.

    Oh, well.

  86. My book tells all the unknowns of a natural law which has most all answers, totally ignored to this point…but it is turning…
    “george verdon – electric health, sacred mission”
    Please read it! Simply said, learning to be grounded with natural electic processes can do most wonderful things for Health and the ecological problem can become reversed…for free!

  87. What an enlightening article. Sad but true. On the North Shore of Massachusetts there is a dirty power plant considered one of the Filthy Five in Massachusetts, owned by one of the biggest power companies in the country. They basically run Massachusetts and could care less about CO2 or our health, or how they are running my city into the ground, paying squat in taxes. I’ve lived here for a long time. The mayor in Salem does nothing. The governor does nothing. The schools are in deep trouble financially. A few groups are trying–one is and another is I’d give these people money but they don’t take any. We need more groups like these on the front lines.

  88. I just cliked by mistake on the “REMOVE MY NAME” and I ask that, if you can, see that my name remain on the informed list.
    George Verdon

  89. I thought Audrey’s article was a very good observation of human behaviour. In fact it made me think of how the human brain (brilliant in so many ways) can easily be brainwashed into believing, unquestioningly, certain beliefs or predictions, especially ones that spell doom for the individual or their environment.
    I can think of many such doomsday scenerios that the so-called clever people in our society bought into hook line and sinker:
    1. 1970’s: looming Ice Age
    2. 1970’s/’80’s: nuclear holocaust
    3. 1980’s: AIDS epidemic
    4. 1990’s: Y2K computer failure
    5. 2000 onwards: SARS, Saddams WMD, Bird Flu and last but not least AGW

    A common thread running throughout all the fearmongering, scare predictions was that vested interests gained economically and politically from propogating the ‘scare’. All were ‘found out’ as no doubt the latest AGW scare will be.

    Funny enough China and India are having none of it and in my view will only pay lip service to AGW claims.
    Denis Falgout in this thread has laid out an articulate and convincing case that CO2 is not a climate change gas that has any discernable impact on climate change – on that basis (and the observable evidence vs dodgy computer models supports him) the AGW platform collapses and the socialist engineers will have to find a new ‘scare’ via which to attempt to achieve their aims of controlling society.

  90. Have you not heard about the AIDS crisis in Africa? No? I suppose that’s because it was just scaremongering…

  91. With the Olympics starting this Friday nite, I truly believe it will galvanize all who watch it with the vision of the levels of pollution that a country that had little electricity 10 yrs ago now seems to have, having put a coal fired plant on line once a week for some years… This may be our greatest ‘picture speaks a thousand words” opportunity. People have been hearing what to do.. and why.. they just did not think THEY had to do it…

    Let’s hope that the visuals really make an impression to move people into action…

    Thanks for your great writeup.. succint… moving…. clearly a known effect on folks..We all need snap out of it so we can do what needs to be done…

    No future house should be built in the world without solar panels for electricity and water heating.. and lets move on the electric cars that we once had…. Many countries are leading the way… its not that we need to figure out WHAT to do.. we just need to DO it.. and it will take mandating unless we give individuals incentives to buy…

    thanks for your article…


  92. yesterday i’m being asked by my english teacher. ” do you care about your environment?” i said of course, i do!!!. but suddently my teacher said. i don’t care about such a thing.. you know what? because I’m old. I’ll die soon, and I have no kids. so the global warming or whatever is called, doesn’t effect me…

    nowadays everyone seems more like him 🙁

  93. Hey, very nice example. I am one of the ones who is trying to call 9-1-1 and trying to get the conductor at the same time. But mostly I’m ignored because I’m still a teenager. Now I heard for an oppertunity from my civics class that I can portray my ideas for my project. I gladly accepted the offer. Now, I wish to recieve information on ways I can help. Please, if you have any information based on global warming and how to stop it, please e-mail me at “”. Thank you.

  94. We definitely have to do something ourselves. The most important is to understand what our planet needs, or as I would put it “decentralization” where centralized, inefficient, fuel-defendant production yields to environment-friendly local production that employs people who lose their jobs in failing globalized economy.
    I have read about greenhouse farming where a small greenhouse can produce amazing amounts of food in your backyard. I think it was invented by Dutch. The idea behind it is that new technologies and concepts allow a person with no experience to grow his own food right where he or she lives – even in a city.
    Yes, we should not be passive bystanders – growing your own vegetables helps this planet as much as getting rid of your car, period. Even if you plant a lemon tree in your apartment and grow lemons you save gas that would have been spent to bring those lemons to your supermarket from Brazil for instance.
    This is perfectly true – we have to do something. Immediately.

  95. Hi. I wrote two songs on Global Warming, but I’m having trouble publishing them. If you by any chance have any clue how to publish anywhere, please inform me from my e-mail, If you just want to read the songs, e-mail me as well and I’ll send you them back as a reply. I don’t mind sharing my work with others because it is something we all need to do: TAKE ACTION!

  96. To Fulton Hanson,

    Thank you! I have been so guilty driving my kids around in the mini van. But if i sell it, then someone else will be driving it. Here’s to driving slow! I’ll start tomorrow on my trip to Michigan from Indiana.

  97. This is an article that really makes you want to get involved. It is a true eye opener. Before I read this I was not aware of the Bystander Effect. But after reading this, I have realized that I have been in many situations where I have been the person to just sit and stare. Now that I have acquired information about this, I know that if I get put in some sort of situation where something needs to be done to break the ice, I could do it. If more people were aware of this effect, maybe there would be more people involved in ‘becoming a hero.’ The author has set a very good example with making simple changes to her every day life that ultimately make our world a better place to live. Now, what is stopping everyone else? Making changes and taking initiative is the only thing that is going to make this world a better place, stabilizing our climate, not only for ourselves but for our children as well.

  98. I really enjoyed reading this article, to tell you the truth. I love how the author grabbed the reader’s attention right from the beginning with the situation happening on the train and nobody was helping. I have heard of the bystander effect and sadly it is what it is. Everybody on earth would stand by and watch horrible things happen because they believe that someone else would take control of the situation. We will help others don’t get me wrong, but every group of people needs orders to follow from a leader to do something. The example would be the author on the train who spoke up and took leadership of the problem and only then did people respond to the crisis by doing what the leader told them to do. Humans as a species are very much like robots. We do good or bad by following the orders of a leader. Take away the power of the leader and you take away his followers. Leaders make history everyday and are neither good nor bad, but are what the culture deems them. I’m sure the author was considered a hero for taking action, but some heroes have a two faced coin. Take Hitler. He was a hero to his followers, but a villain to his enemies. Both sides will make their arguments but they both have this in common: Bystanders on both sides stood and watched the holocaust happen and did nothing because they believed that somebody else would take center stage. They did not do anything unless a leader told them it was good or bad and then they would spring into action. This is just one out of many examples of the bystander effect. I do not think the material of the article really fits with the article, because for more than half of it, the author spoke of the bystander effect and then switched to how to be a climate hero close to the end. I understand the author was just trying to grab he reader’s attention but I feel like they could have got to the how to be a climate hero part much sooner then rambling on and on about the bystander effect. I do however believe in the whole recycling bit because my family does with the paper bags from grocery stores and wal mart and such. We also save the boxes a lot of the time to use as boxes to wrap birthday and Christmas presents in. AAll and all it was an okay article to read.

  99. This was a fantastic article to read. I was aware of the bystander effect before I read the article, but I wasn’t aware the effect was greater the more people were in the area. This ties in fantastically with pollution because there are many people in the world who pollute the environment mindlessly every single day, thinking someone else will take care of the mess, thinking someone else will take action for their carelessness. If our generation doesn’t take charge by starting to limit our pollution, we are going to be facing some serious trouble within the near future. Personally, I already try to limit pollution already. For example, I walk to my post office as opposed to driving the car. It is little things that could make a difference, and I encourage everyone to start making a difference today. This was a fantastic article. I am looking forward to reading more into this subject, thank you.

  100. The first time I read this I was surprised about the by stander effect. However, I agree with it. But I was unsure of how it related to climate change until I read the last paragraph. When most people are in an emergency situation, they often freeze and are unsure of what to do. It’s often not that they do not want to help others; it is that they do not know how they can help. The easiest thing for them to do would be to call 9-1-1. I have saw news reports of people that are pretending to be hurt in the middle of the street. Most people that walked by the person would simple just glance at him and go on. One person even stopped to take a picture from his cell phone! I believe that change needs to occur. However, I find it hard to not own a car around here because places that I need to go are not in walking or biking distance.

  101. I love how this article is set up, and how It’s simple and real. I actively watch reality TV, and I’ve seen more than once this bystander effect. In once instance in a bad neighborhood a young man was beat until unconscious in front of a store in broad daylight, with many passersby. This man lay there on the side walk out cold for an hour before someone finally called 9-1-1. He died at the hospital but doctors said if he had gotten help sooner he may have lived. I have studied as a nurse and take more CPR/first aid classes than I can count, so I after it crosses my mind and I process the situation I have no problem acting. Whether it be to provide medical attention or just simply call 9-1-1. But I have been a victim of this bystander affect before, although I know what to do when someone is having a seizure and even though I saw someone doing it wrong I was in a big cafeteria full of people who were doing nothing as well. If my parents and the people I associate with aren’t on board when it comes to helping the environment I don’t really go out of my way either. I never litter, turn down my thermostat, and use less water, but it’s not nearly enough. But as long as everyone else is passive I probably will be too. But living in such a country setting it is a little harder to cut back, like when it comes to driving, I have to drive, there is no way around it. Every place I need to go is too far away to travel differently. More people need to stand up for the environment which in turn would make even more stand up for it.

  102. I send in my learned comment re Global warming to 5 newspapers per day.I have done this for over a year.If only one person reads my comments then 365×5=1,645 people have been reminded that there is a Climate crisis.I have to believe in the power of one,bec there is not one organized group re Global Warming in Okla..Inhofe territory in many ways right now

  103. The Bystander Effect has plagued us all at least once throughout our lives. We’ve seen someone in serious trouble, and just stared at them as if we were watching a movie and waiting for the hero to save the day. Usually there is one in the crowd that stops forward and takes action. But when it comes to life and death situations every second is valuable. The longer the crowd waits to help the victim, the less likely they’ll survive. That’s metaphor is similar to the one Schulman made. Honestly, it has opened my eyes, to the dangers of doing nothing to stop of the effects of the climate change. A large portion of the public has no idea the effects climate change has on the Earth and why it’s happening. This quote from Shulman hit home, “Scientists tell us we have ten years, if that, to make significant changes. Every indication, from ice caps to defrosting tundra, seems to show this is the tipping point. This is our moment. Perhaps you never thought you’d get a chance to play hero. Here it is” (np). If we continue to stand by and do nothing, then we as the human race will regret it, and we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

  104. Let’s face it, the overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. cannot get their brains around the idea of global warming. For some reason the concept of the greenhouse effect just eludes them. Ask anyone you know if they understand how it works and you’ll realize what I am saying. I haven’t even gotten around to asking them to change their lifestyle. I hate to admit it, but the situation looks very dire.

  105. What would become of humankind if we dissipated uncontrollably its limited resources, degraded irreversibly its frangible environs and destroyed it irrevocably as a fit place for human habitation, just as we are doing now here?

  106. It’s true that climate change is a definite issue. The only way it can be addressed and/or looked into is if we, the people who have already acknowledged this, spread the news.

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