That would be my Indian name.   Argues-with-Idiots. 

I am tilting at the windmill of human denial about the danger of global warming.   

                                                                   illustration from

And AGW is worse than ever. Even TIME magazine thinks we should wake up to the the dangerous misunderstanding of climate change.  This article ran just a few days before the election.

"... carbon emissions would need to be cut drastically from current
levels. Yet almost all of the subjects in Sterman's study failed to
realize that, assuming instead that you could stabilize carbon
concentration simply by capping carbon emissions at their current
level. That's not the case -- and in fact, pursuing such a plan for
the future would virtually guarantee that global warming could spin
out of control. It may seem to many like good common sense to
wait until we see proof of the serious damage global warming is
doing before we take action. But it's not -- we can't "wait and see"
on global warming because the climate has a momentum all its
own, and if we wait for decades to finally act to reduce carbon
emissions, it could well be too late. Yet this simply isn't
understood. Someone as smart as Bill Gates doesn't seem to get it.
"Fortunately climate change, although it's a huge challenge, it's a
challenge that happens over a long period of time," he said at a
forum in Beijing last year. "You know, we have time to work on it."
But the truth is we don't. "

I think I am gradually growing to accept this human deficiency - we are unable to see, unwilling to act on far off dangers - no matter how certain.  The future of global warming becomes clearer... and the ONLY global survival solution requires a total unified human effort - with 100% support.. which is, of course, impossible.  The differing opinions and different thoughts and actions - quintessentially human - is a trait that best preserves our species by having sizeable factions in disputed survival judgements and errant thinkers taking different actions.    So whole populations with one trait may thrive, while those with another trait will fail.  It seems like a nice way to design a species: to allow groupings with individual differences to best adapt to a changing future.  This assures that random changes may still act to allow the species to change. 

hotsuns.jpgWe are not ants.  But in this case it may bite us back, for the errant few with denialist tunnel vision are working to constrain any unified effort to change.  And that spells doom. 

They may no longer deny, they may only want to delay. That delay will kill us, the delay means tipping points are passed and runaway global warming cannot be stopped, no matter how strong the human will and effort.   And a destabilized climate will continue to wreak havoc, and the predicted increase in temperature (11 degrees C ) can extinguish most animal life at sea level.   With less heat increase, perhaps better survival.

First comes the decimation of our species -  it will take a few decades, disease, drought, storm floods and the attendant wars and violent struggles to survive - met with violent defense.  Eventually the chaos will wean out the weak and the unwilling and the remaining population will have full commitment to survive - but almost no capability to affect global cascading events.  Then in a hot and changing age the struggle will be to survive amidst dwinding resources and scarce living places - perhaps limited to mountainous areas near the poles.   Pretty grim future.  Even though that struggle may be a few generations out - it may be good that people don't realize this just now.  How does one tell a young person about this?

And so I am not going to argue with idiots anymore because the ship is now hitting the iceberg and no change of direction can prevent it.  Now the discussion is about how to best deploy the lifeboats and figure out how best to slow the sinking. Bush was the captain that crashed the boat, Obama is the new captain.  So this is a change of attitude.   The science and the projections remain the same.   I realize this is dystopic - but it is not implausible, and it conforms to IPCC climate predictions.


Cross posted to


.... You do know there is no documented instance of wolves attacking humans? I'm a wildlife biologist. It's a fact. Wolves are villified enough as it is. Continued bad press is not helpful. I just dealt with hostile ranchers who hate wolves and warn of their dangers incessently. They pick off a cow every now and then. Big whoop.

Wolves and other keysone predators have never been the problem. Human ignorance of nature always has.

Climate change and the horrors it will unleash is the culprit. I think this is your real message.

I hear you Richard, and I think it's good advice. In fact I keep giving it to myself when my lack of discipline causes me to forget that I SHOULDN'T be arguing with the very idiot I'm in the middle of debating.

So the real question is, if we can't argue with them, what CAN we do?

Can we have them "disappeared" before their denying has catastrophic consequences? Isn't that covered under the Bush doctrine? And let's be honest, who would miss them? How much do we cut greenhouse gases with each person we downsize? Aren't these same folks usually the biggest energy users too. Just imagine how many fewer SUVs would be on the road.

Can we put them in re-education camps and hope to enlighten them? Look how good the Chinese are doing since their Mao camps did the job. Maybe we call it No Denier Left Behind.

Can we deport them all to those islands under most immediate threat from sea level rise? Yeah, that's the ticket since those deniers are all wet anyway, let's give them all a one way ticket to the Maldives or the island nation of Tuvalu.

I'm just saying... Sometimes you have to think outside the box to get really Creative.

Thanks Joe, some good observations. I now think of "them" as heckler zealots (denialists) I wish them no harm, but they interfere and disrupt worse than a high school class wiseguy on speed.

You might enjoy how George Carlin handled one heckler: (audio not office safe - like much of Carlin)

But most of all, I mean no harm, because these are the fun and free times. When we get serious about mitigation, it will not be as free and not as fun. Think of World War Two - my folks reminded me that just before that war many, many Americans were against fighting a foreign war - until Pearl Harbor - then everyone was behind the effort. Instantly. And at that time all dissent and political impudence halted. The US had lots of labor disputes etc. But the war effort was total. After a few more climate disasters, all this arguing idiots will slow down.

And I like your site

Since the Bush administration played such a big role in backing and officially sanctioning the whole deniers PR campaign as well as the censoring of science, there is some hope with the new Obama administration. At least the character of the conversation will change to one where govt supports the mainstream scientists again.

And the global ramifications of having an American administration that wants to lead instead of block progress will help a lot.

I keep thinking that the news media is key. If the media can be convinced that their "balanced" coverage of climate change is doing much harm, there is the chance for change. We need much more of the kind of efforts to educate like We Can Solve It, the "clean coal" is a myth people, and others are doing. This should be a top priority of the new administration, in what ever way they can throw their weight behind it. I realize you will never convince some people. It is the people who may be swayed by those who can't be convinced that must be targeted.

I intend to write letters to people like Rachael Maddow and Keith Olberman on MSNBC in an effort to get them to understand the problem with current media coverage, and to make global warming a priority on their shows. I would suggest to them that this entail serious hour long interviews with climate scientists, without the (required for balance) deniers on stage with them. It would also be a welcome change from their somewhat predictable though often amusing formats, which are largely full of soundbites. If you watch Hardball, Maddow and Olberman on any given day, what they are doing now is all covering the same stories every day. So they could use some new material.

I realize this would be preaching to the choir to a large extent since their audiences must be mostly liberals. But at least they are nationwide and do reach a broader audience to some extent. At least it would be a start.

I don't really know how much these personalities make the decisions on what gets covered or how.


You are spot on. It is a news media problem and maybe a news media solution. But the frank discussion of both global warming and denialism will be a tough demand to make on media that has a vested interest in carbon fuel products. The lawsuit of Kivalina v Exxon - now in the courts - had named mass media as unnamed co-conspirators.

It is a great idea to write those people and put on some added pressure. Otherwise they are driving people to get news from the Internet. I think the choice is theirs - although I suspect news editorial decisions happen very high up. Inaction on this issue would be stupid on their part.


The most painful part of your article is that you are probably right. The earth moves quickly but painfully slowly in the life span of a human. We are lazy and prefer our own comfort unless threatened with imminent destruction. It is SOOO much easier to suppose that the whole problem will go away...hey, perhaps it really isn't that bad anyway. Hell, the earth has been here for billions of years....what is a little carbon? Well, we haven't been here for billions of years and if we keep this up, this gentle green/blue little ball will tilt ever so gently in temp and send us all right to hell with everything else in its natural web that depends on todays fragile but stable climate. We are like the frog. Toss him into boiling water and he leaps out instantly. Put him in cool water and turn on the heat....he slowly adjusts until suddenly he can no longer adjust and he is overwhelmed. Well, I think it is too late for us but at least those of us not afraid to contront reality can look forward and try. Die trying I's better than going out like a Delta or Gamma, sitting on your backside watching NASCAR.

> 11 degrees C

Uhm.. ok, I am aware that global warming is a real and urgent threat, but 11 degrees? That is quite a high figure, may I ask you where this comes from?

Also, I'd like to say: please do not abandon hope. I may sound naive, but it's better to do whatever you can than to sit down and complain. It's good to face the reality of a threat, but it's also good to look on the bright side and concentrate on a best effort to deal with it.

Nope, 11 degrees C is both possible and plausible

"Published this month the MIT-based research found a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise by 9C degrees by 2100 if human emissions continue to rise.

Using a variety of data sources back in 2007, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) projected temperature increases anywhere from 2C to 11C degrees by the end of the century. New data suggest that the higher range of that projection is now more likely."

And I would prefer not to rely on hope. And agree with you that it is good to face reality and give it our best effort.

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