Banner
    Climate Change: Where Republicans And Democrats Agree
    By Hank Campbell | April 30th 2013 04:24 PM | 47 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0® and co-author of "Science Left Behind".

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone...

    View Hank's Profile

    In America, only two political parties can win the presidency. For that reason the two parties tend to have a 'big tent' mentality and embrace a lot of fringe members in return for votes. The perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good, the saying goes.

    Due to that structure, and that a tiny percentage of 'swing voters' determine a winner, the opposing sides tend to vilify and stereotype each other as much as possible, including in ways that are tailored to the audience. For example, Democrats hate business and are anti-science, while Republicans hate minorities and are anti-science. 

    Wait, they're both anti-science? Sure, just about different things. 

    Despite opposition from many Republicans, President George W. Bush limited federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research to existing lines. Progressive activists in politics and science media called that limitation a 'ban' and said Republicans are anti-science.  Despite opposition from many Democrats and scientists, President Obama bans somatic cell nuclear transfer and conservative political activists in science media would call him anti-science for that, if there were more than five of them. 

    Pick a science position and one side or the other is anti-science; for the right it is global warming, biology and evolution, for the left it is still evolution and biology but they are more anti-science about medicine rather than the climate.

    Yet we know that, despite simplistic framing by zealots, it isn't that entire political parties are anti-science, much less the entire swath of diverse people inside them.  Republicans, for example, dislike the term 'global warming' - as do most climate scientists - but their acceptance of climate science and the physics behind it goes way up when the term is 'climate change', which is more scientifically accurate. Democrats don't hate all energy, they just hate energy that works, like nuclear power and fossil fuels, and the same goes for medicine; Democrats more than Republicans distrust validated medicine and embrace the alternative kind. But that does not mean we can call Democrats anti-science due to that any more than we can call all Republicans anti-science because slightly more of them don't accept evolution.

    Even on science topics, it isn't always left and right, including on issues we get told are left and right. Sociologists analyzed some Gallup survey results - yes, that is what they call a study, in the social science world - and found common ground among Democrats and Republicans when it comes to taking action on climate science. People in either party who accept the consensus on climate change think CO2 emissions are important enough for the government to curb them, like we have done with lots of other types of pollution.

    Now, CO2 in America needs curbed by the government less and less each day - we have migrated from coal for energy to natural gas and energy sector CO2 emissions have plummeted, while the government's $72 billion in green energy corporation subsidies helped us very little. But it's still good to know that people will support more government restrictions should they ever be needed.

    What the surveys tell us is that despite the caricatures some draw about their opposition, lots of people cross party lines when it comes to their issues of importance. Not every Democrat is an anti-science hippie, not every Republican is a greedy, oil-guzzling vampire. In fact, most aren't. Even conservatives who deny global warming studies conserve energy as much as rabid left-wing believers.

    In Science Left Behind, a book I wrote last year with Dr. Alex Berezow, I tried to get rid of left-right thinking, and even the famous quadrant (liberal, progressive, conservative, libertarian) and replace it with a triangle.  The idea that each issue can be represented by extreme nodes of a triangle that correlate to issues like freedom and fairness and excellence is obvious - instead of being at a fixed point or on a line, we are in some moving spot in the space between those nodes, depending on the topic. For sports, as an example, we want the best players but we don't want an ethnicity being blocked out of participation.  A heavier influence toward freedom and excellence means teams are going to hire the best athletes regardless of race, religion, etc. while too much focus on fairness means America would need to have 13% Latino hockey players and at any given time we must have 9 Jewish professional basketball players.  Maybe there are 9 Jewish basketball players in the NBA, I have no idea, but it would be silly to mandate it when we just want to see good basketball.(1)

    Obviously that Republicans - generally in favor of smaller government and less regulation - would support more regulation on emissions to solve climate change defies left-right thinking. It's not that complicated to people outside politics, it's simply a matter of the importance of the issue to that person.  I personally don't like that America is the only civilized country that allows late-term abortion on demand. No other first world country does. As the recent trial of a highly unethical abortion doctor showed, if an aborted 'fetus' is alive and swimming in a toilet, it's probably a baby.  But if my Congressional representative says a baby should be aborted at 39 weeks for any reason, would I change my vote?  No, because the importance of that part of the abortion issue is rather low for me.  I am for freedom and that means allowing things like abortions and gun ownership - you can restrict them with some common sense but you can't ban them. However, I own guns and don't want to be criminalized for doing something a smart guy like Thomas Jefferson said I should be able to do, so while the importance of abortion to me personally might be a 1 on a 10 scale, it isn't the same for guns. If my elected representative is in favor of abortion or not, it changes nothing about how I vote but banning guns would be a 10 in importance - I would vote for the other side.  Yet even then it is not simply one side or another. On background checks for buyers in aftermarket sales, I am more like an 8 - on the other side. If you don't favor background checks that stop criminals from getting guns at gun shows, I am likely to vote for someone else.

    See? People are more complex than the Washington Post wants you to believe when they are telling us all how polarized we are.

    Sure, surveys are not perfect but for this kind of thing they are okay, if they are well-constructed.  A dozen people who averaged polls the day before the 2012 Presidential election predicted all 50 states correctly so they clearly get big issues right - and climate change is a big issue, virtually no one in America has not heard of it or lacks an opinion.

    The sociologists used a 2012 Gallup poll, a survey of 1,024 adults that had a 95% confidence interval, +/- 4%. From those results they concluded that there wasn't a more positive response for action by Republicans because of a "denial machine", an organized movement to undercut climate data during the past two decades. But that is where the paper falls apart a little. There is 10,000X as much money spent on climate change awareness as is spent on denial. 

    What is instead happening is that Congress is doing exactly what they are told to do; when 52 Democrats sent a letter to the FDA demanding warming labels for genetically-modified foods, they were not responding to a well-funded, anti-science "denial machine" against GMOs, they were representing the beliefs of Democrats who think biologists are driving us off a health cliff.  Painting it as a denial machine for people on the right who believe climate scientists are driving us off an economic cliff is conspiracy theory stuff, not evidence-based. The money spent on climate science denial is trivial, it is like saying Dr. Bonner's Magic Soap can take down Monsanto by spouting their homeopathy nonsense about organic products.

    What is really probably happening are two things; numerical models are a lot better and that makes people comfortable. Conservatives in science tend to be in the harder sciences and engineering and math - they know models and how to make them and how statistics and big data work. In 2001, climate models were shockingly simplistic, something conceded even by groups like the Weather Underground now.  In 2013 many more models are high-quality and climate scientists have greater knowledge of what can go wrong, they know better which knobs are important and how to make the data manageable.  As the data got stronger and the public learned more about the science, distrust started to fade.  On the left, we see the same issue with their reactionary anti-science positions. More and more people who care about food are abandoning the reflexive 'science is evil' position and learning how science works. In the process, they are losing their fear of it. Here is one example in GMOs: Science Is Laughing At Us.

    Now we need to get sociologists to stop taking survey results and mapping it to their cultural topology also. In science, mapping the data you have to the topology you pre-determined is a big no-no.

    People are embracing cleaner energy without being forced into it; government mandates for ethanol and solar and wind power have been huge, expensive flops while the private sector has made cleaner energy at affordable cost, without their union workers being penalized. Still, the environment can never be a libertarian free-for-all.

    "Certainly we can't solve all our problems with global warming through government regulations – in fact, for some problems, government regulations might make it worse," said first author Aaron McCright, a sociologist at Michigan State University, in their statement. "And so we need a combination of market-based solutions and government regulations." 

    That's true, very few issues are as black-and-white as proponents and opponents paint them, and neither are solutions.

    Citation: Aaron M. McCright, Riley E. Dunlap, Chenyang Xiao, 'Perceived scientific agreement and support for government action on climate change in the USA', Climatic Change February 2013, no link because they will charge you $40 for the stupid thing and if Springer wants advertising here, they can pay for it.

    NOTE:

    (1) If you go back in time, basketball was 'a Jewish sport'.


    Comments

    It has to be said, and we've had a small altercation on this subject before, that your own political position comes through very clearly and you do yourself indulge in some of the smearing of the left as anti science: "Conservatives in science tend to be in the harder sciences and engineering and math - they know models and how to make them and how statistics and big data work."The imputation being that the left-wing are all muzzy-headed and incapable of dealing with proper science.

    And it has to be said your triangle matrix clearly has a libertarian-ish ab initio assumptions.

    It is a fairly normal human process to skew anything we encounter to make it fit our beliefs and mental map, in fact trying to avoid that is perhaps the single most important contribution of scientific method to differentiating what we what to be real from what is, So one's political landscape does impact on one's position on science related subjects - if you're left wing your likely to be much more concerned about the environment and health and if you're right wing it's alll about the impact on business or fear of regulation.

    I did just mean to mention briefly that the 'America is the only civilized country that allows late-term abortion on demand comment is a an example of that skewing. Federal law doesn't legislate against it because it's largely in the hands of the states, who then use backdoor legislation and chicanery to make it unavalable In fact 87% of US counties have NO provision for terminations at all.

    Hank
    There are two comments so I will reply to both here: I fully accept that my own political view comes through in articles about politics and policy.  Almost 50% of the time I am criticized by the left and almost 50% by the right and there are few people in the middle - in science academia or in science media - which makes the middle left or right depending on how far left or how far right the commenter is.

    I am not sure of your complaint about my saying that what few conservatives there are in science academia are more in the physical sciences. Do you not know any scientists, or do you not think a good guess would be that a non-liberal would be a physicist, chemist or engineer rather than a psychologist? Virtually every bit of data we have says that is a true statement but somehow I am biased for noting what every survey tells us? By the time you get over to social sciences the numbers are 99.9% left but in the physical sciences only about 60%. 

    On abortion, you are arguing a point that is somewhat silly. I said abortion is unimportant to me, though I don't like that we are the only country that does not ban late-term kind.  You then want to argue that some states do limit some abortions and therefore it is 'chicanery' but that is exactly what states are supposed to do and is their right and they do regarding guns also - yet assault weapons have been banned by the Fed since 1934 so clearly it can happen for anything that is outside the enumerated powers if it can happen for things in the Bill of Rights.

    So what is your real point? Are you contending abortion in the 40th week for any reason should be allowed, on demand, even though every other developed nation bans it?  Cool by me. As I said, if you were my Congressional representative it wouldn't make a difference in how I vote. 


    Hank,

    You bring some very interesting points and I'm intrigued enough to possibly get my hands on a copy of your book. I would like to bring an additional point into the fold. The distinction between political perspectives in the United States is, and has always been, two bipolar issues. States rights vs. federal powers and collectivesm vs. individualism.

    The funny thing is that most of us are not consistent with our preferences when it comes to individual political issues. For instance pro-choicer's push the individualistic perspectives of women's choice while many on the left consistently push for authoritarian perspectives on just about everything else, i.e. Bloomberg's nanny state ram-shot in New York. At the same time pro-lifer's push for authoritarian perspectives for abortion while touting small government in the very next breath.

    PoliticalCompass.org lists the bipolar nature of our politics and calls the bipolar scales as Authoritarian-Libertarian and Communism-Neo-Liberalism. They are also called Fascism-Anarchism and Left-Right. You can actually take a short test to help determine where on the political spectrum that you belong.

    That being said the problem in science is when it is used by politicians for the sole purpose of obtaining and sustaining their power structures. Currently there is not much difference between the two established parties and this is where the Tea Party has stepped in. The problem with modern science is that it is heavily steeped in politics and the cancer that is called political correctness. Any would-be scientist seeking positions or research funding will be politically and professionally crucified if they, at any time, transgress the threshold of what is considered politically incorrect or found to be on the wrong side of the political isle. I appreciate your walking the tightrope with your blog, it is very significant how you have been able to piss off both sides and still have not alienated them both.

    Global Warming "science" is and has always been heavily steeped in left leaning authoritarian collectivist politics. I would like to correct one of your assertions. People on the right side of the isle DO NOT agree with those on the political left when it comes to "Climate Change." Leftists still worship at the alter of exclusive "Human Causes" while those on the political right are still waiting for the real scientific proof that can successfully separate natural causes from those that may have been contributed by humans.

    The bottom line is that there are considerably more variables than are completely unaccounted for in any of the current scientific models. As such any long term data from them is, and will always be, dubious at best. Anyone who makes assertions that the science is settled is practicing nothing more than political pseudoscience.

    Hank
    Thanks, you hit on some key points and I can clarify what I mean.

    When I say the right has greater acceptance of climate change, that is what surveys show. There is an almost 20% difference among conservatives between the two terms. Oddly, on the left if you throw any term up there 80% of them agree with it, as long as it is blaming fellow humans and evil corporations.  So the right tends to be nuanced and think about terms when responding a little more, but the use of the term 'global warming' sends right wing people into higher levels of denial than evolution, which is the one area of science denied by a giant chunk of both parties.

    What no one denies is that CO2 itself is a problem - not Anthony Watts, not anyone who understands physics. There is a giant chasm of disagreement about feedbacks (and therefore warming) but not CO2. In my experience, people on the right understand this, even if they only learned it to debunk a political issue and disagree about man's impact on CO2 levels.  I liken it to atheism; the overwhelming majority of atheists know the Bible better than all but a small minority of religious people and skeptics know climate science better than most accepters, even if the intent is not a positive one.
    "What no one denies is that CO2 itself is a problem.."

    Not necessarily true, where is the scientific evidence that CO2 will cause warming. I say that since CO2 levels are well known to lag the average temperatures in the Earth's atmosphere. Anyone who studied control theory understands the differences and implications of causality and its effects on the phase relationships of the signals. Effects ALWAYS lag causes, causes NEVER lag effects. This is true even with unstable positive feedback systems.

    The greenhouse effect is real, but it may only be significant with much, much higher levels of CO2, such as in the 95% concentrations in the atmosphere of Venus. Whereas the Earth's concentrations, even allowing for the hyperbolized and cherry-picked concentrations, measured only around a minuscule 380 parts per MILLION or or 0.038%.

    Secondly even IF the average global temperatures do increase, where is the scientific (read NOT anecdotal) evidence that this will have a negative impact on the Earth's biology? It is well known that plant life metabolism increases with higher levels of CO2 thus giving us potentially greater opportunities to feed the world, how is this bad? This also, by the way, means that the plant life will increase its rate of CO2 scrubbing from the atmosphere. One such reference: http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/110/3/893

    While I do subscribe to the notion that we should be responsible with our resources and we should minimize our impacts caused by our presence we should never be harassed by politicians or PhD's into subscribing to debilitating our economy based solely on a politically motivated belief.

    Thanks for the article. For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues worldwide, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.Libertarian-International.org ....

    This article to my mind reeks of anti-Libertarian bigotry not worthy of a scientist. Libertarians created the Green movement, have made clear they're very strict on moving to a property line-based anti-pollution regime, and unveiled with the GAO that the US Government was the largest polluter. How this translates as a 'libertarian free for all' is anybody's guess.

    A scientist has an obligation to get his facts straight. Do so!

    Hank
    How could anything in this article be construed as anti-libertarian?  You are saying government is a big polluter.  Well, no kidding. But claiming that with no environmental regulations things would be better is silly.

    P.S. A self-proclaimed progressive, Republican Teddy Roosevelt, created the green movement.
    Hi Hank,

    If you do not know that Canada “your next door neighbor” does not have any legal restrictions on abortion, then maybe you are you are letting yourself be blinded by the pro-lifer lobby of your country. Please make due diligence before spreading disinformation. Otherwise I really enjoyed your article.

    Hank
    You are correct, Canada also does not ban late-term abortions. But really, being behind Kazakhstan, Cuba, Cambodia and 42 other countries is not anything I brag about and Canadians shouldn't either.  Thanks for the kind words, and for catching my error.
    I'm not sure where you're getting the left being more anti-science on medicine, unless you're meaning "relative to the left's stance on other science issues" rather than in comparison to the right.

    The usual example given of left anti-science is higher belief in a vaccine/autism link (which the current medical indicates is non-correlated). The one national poll I'm aware of on the question had more believers among Romney voters, the very conservative, and Republicans than among Obama voters, the very liberal, and Democrats.

    Similarly, despite your assertion that "Democrats more than Republicans distrust validated medicine and embrace the alternative kind", I'm not aware of any poll that has explicitly tested that claim. Popular wisdom has it so, but popular wisdom is wrong about the association of Anti-Vaxx being more on the political left. (The best I was able to turn up was the CDC study on use of alternative medicine, which does not directly address political affiliation, and where the demographic relations seem weaker when prayer is counted as one of the alternatives.)

    In much the same way, that President Obama may have banned somatic cell nuclear transfer research does not per se indicate that such opposition is an anti-science stance of the left, rather than a political compromise taken to mollify the political right.

    I'm also deeply doubtful as to where you get the dollar amounts underlying the claim that "There is 10,000X as much money spent on climate change awareness as is spent on denial." Greenpeace indicates that the aggregate spending by "The Donor's Trust" alone has been on the order of $25M annually for several years. Likely the annual spending on awareness is more, but can you show it to be on the order of a quarter of the US military budget, requisite for your math to work? Or are you just making up numbers that "feel right" -- a harbinger that you are "beginning to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts"?

    Hank
    The left-right statistics on medicine and other things were taken from the GSS in 2006. If you disagree with what people self report about their beliefs and their political leaning, okay by me.  More Democrats also believe in ghosts, psychics, astrology and that all man-made chemicals cause cancer but those were not relevant to the article. More Republicans deny we evolved and fewer understand plate tectonics.

    The US GAO says we spend $8.8 billion annually on climate science studies. So during the period under discussion just the US has spent $100 billion on climate science. There is no massive denial machine that can come anywhere close to that. Now, conspiratorial types will claim it can - a drop in the bucket will somehow change all these minds - but then the same conspiratorial types will claim that Prop 37 to put labels on GMOs lost because organic farming and homeopathy companies were outspent. When Exxon-Mobil was criticized for spending $2 million annually for 8 years on climate denial, the group doing the accusing, Union of Concerned Scientists, spent $12 million each year on awareness.  10,000X is a conservative estimate because the denial movements in other countries are much smaller and data is in the noise range but if 5,000X or 1,000X makes you feel better, go for it.  It's still orders of magnitude.

    In December, I did finally see a Republican in a Congressional hearing go on an anti-vaccine jag at the CDC but until then it had been all left-wing people. I am surprised you think it is 'popular wisdom' that spontaneously generated. The CDC maps areas and schools that refuse to vaccinate their children. Republican (and religious) states have vaccine rates for kids over 99% while states like California and Washington have the most fringe-like swaths - the coast - below herd immunity levels. And in California the coast is 85% Democrats.

    Your take on Obama is likely correct but you are leaving out half of the context; Bush also made a decision to mollify people who he did not personally agree with; there had been no hESC funding and the NIH was thrilled when he signed off on it, even with limitations. Obama made a slight change but the Bush policy is essentially intact yet it was announced that Obama "lifted the ban", showing that science media is overwhelmingly partisan.
    I'm fine with self-report on attitudes and political/party identification. However, the GSS-2006 is pretty large, and without reference to which analysis of it or which variable, it's not clear. A quick search turns up CONMEDIC and MEDSCI as possible variables. Aggregating over 2000-2012 for the former suggests the very liberal have a marginally higher tendency than the very conservative to "hardly any" confidence in medicine; the latter (only asked in 2006 and 2012), the very conservative a marginally higher tendency to consider medicine as less scientific. Back-of-the envelope suggests the former might be statistically significant, but you'd probably have to aggregate all 40 years to get to two nines confidence at GSS sample size. I'm not seeing what other variables in the GSS-2006 would be applicable -- though I'll note EXPDESGN suggests the extremely conservative are more likely to not understand experimental control for medical drug trials.

    For the GAO number, you're counting all "climate science studies" as advocacy -- which seems inherently dishonest. Merely because doing science indicates global warming is happening does not make the research partisan. The Exxon-Mobil and Union of Concerned Scientists comparison is a lot more fair; however, that's spending within under a factor of ten, not ten thousand -- less than one order of magnitude, not four.

    Though I could only find breakdown to census region (can you suggest a source for one more detailed? your remarks seem to suggest having one with county-level resolution), the CDC geographic distribution does indeed seem to line up with the general political map. That explains the common wisdom. Nonetheless, that's mere co-correlation; direct polling of the electorate indicates the autism-vax belief lacks direct correlation. The elected seem to be another matter; there's a lot more news reports of anti-vax remarks from Democrats in office than from Republicans, and the primary sponsor for CAM at NIH is a Democrat. Contrariwise, I'm not aware of a systematic attitude survey of Congress, which leaves open the possibility that the GOP are too busy making noise on other forms of crazy for the anti-vax attitudes to be noticed.

    And yes, I'm aware that both Obama and Bush compromised, and that the policies are quite similar. (It's only surprising for those who think Obama is particularly liberal.) However, it seems worth noting who they were compromising with, and the direction of compromise. It was fewer of the liberals who were pushing against such research.

    That the science media tend overwhelmingly partisan, I'd agree; I'd also add, tending grossly incompetent.

    Hank
    For the GAO number, you're counting all "climate science studies" as advocacy -- which seems inherently dishonest.
    I never said climate science is advocacy. Not ever, in 2,000 articles. 

    What I did say is a whole lot of money is spent on climate science and a tiny fraction of that is spent on denial. Denial is not converting anyone who isn't already converted, the same way only anti-science people believe silly claims about GMOs or that fracking will cause the Earth to deflate. It happens to be there are a lot more anti-science people about GMOs on the left than the right. Vaccines too. Energy too.  There are more climate science deniers on the right. Evolution too.
    which leaves open the possibility that the GOP are too busy making noise on other forms of crazy for the anti-vax attitudes to be noticed.
    I guess you still want to rationalize the right is a lot worse. That's fine, but people in the middle don't see it. Since science academia is overwhelmingly left, and science media even more so, 'the right is anti-science' certainly sells better. It is just not evidence-based.
    "What I did say is a whole lot of money is spent on climate science and a tiny fraction of that is spent on denial."

    No. What you wrote was "There is 10,000X as much money spent on climate change awareness as is spent on denial."

    I think it is reasonable for readers to interpret your phrase "climate change awareness" as a form of public relations, making it parallel to "denial" in your sentence.

    It's a good issue, however, since climate change deniers seem to believe that their science is better, not "anti-science." I am not expert on any of the many disciplines that comprise "climate science," so whether I am anti-science or pro-science on this issue seems to be a function of whom I trust, not whether I trust Science in some grander sense.

    David Taylor, MD

    Hank
    I think it is a mistake to engage in deficit thinking on a science site - in that you understand what I mean and everyone else cannot grasp it. This isn't USA Today, we are not writing for 8th graders or fine arts majors. The idea that science studies to the tune of $8 billion yearly making people aware of the physics issues in emissions will be derailed by a few million dollars from skeptics is not reasonable. People who hate science enough to buy that are just not reading here - they may read Watts or Union of Concerned Scientists, depending on their political leaning, but they are not coming here and seeing me note that concerns about skeptic funding are overblown and sending their acceptance of science into a tailspin.

    The sociologist I referenced can't grasp that it is not a well-funded "denial machine" in climate science that is the problem, any more than it is in medicine, but you see it clearly; skeptics think they are being advocates for better science but they only know just enough to be wrong. They can foment doubt and fear but not actually do their own science.
    You are too generous in your assumptions about readers; I was under the impression that you were comparing funding for propaganda from, say, The Environmental Defense Fund, with funding for propaganda from Exxon. I also am old enough to assume -- incorrectly I know -- that scientists do science for other scientists, and that the vast pool of liberal and conservative people-in-the-streets are poorly placed to judge its merits without help, and I really have no idea whether the propaganda arm of the EDF is longer than the propaganda arm of ExxonMobil. In addition to my clinical life, I run a physiology lab at my medical school, and I would not expect the average lay person to be able to understand the titles of many of our publications, let along be in a position to judge the merits of our research. Sadly, it tends to be the pharmaceutical industry that plays the translator role, nudging popular beliefs in the direction of whatever drugs they need to sell. David Taylor, MD

    Hank
    Sure, but I think 0.03 of the public can understand your work and that's who the target is here. The broad science audience in America (self-reported) is 65 million but we are only 1 million readers a month of that. I don't always understand the physics stuff, for example, but I can get the context. Some things do take a PhD to really get. In the same way, I think a million people already interested in physiology wouldn't be experts on all its subtleties in each sub-field but they would be able to get most of the articles - and they are not going to be swayed too much by marketing. 

    This is an open site, so people can find it in search engines, but people who are overwhelmed tend to disappear in about 30 seconds. Science has flaws, it also has people with flaws, and noting the flaws is what has made it work, that is the essence of peer review. So science is not going to collapse if I note that both political constituencies have anti-science beliefs, but I'm sure not Paul Feyerabend, trying to turn things into a postmodernist fairy tale.
    Technically correct; more exactly, you said "on climate change awareness as is spent on denial". However, I think that's a disingenuous bit of quibbling. Research only counts as "spending on awareness" in so far as it produces results (indicating climate change) for people to be aware of, rather than actually making them aware. Comparing research dollars and PR dollars? Really.

    Your assertion on GMOs is also sloppy -- the 2006 GSS "EATGM" and similar variables indicate it's not "the left", as there is no significant difference in opposition from liberals versus conservatives. (Democrats, yes; at a first glance, largely because of conservative blacks who still self-identify as Democrats.) Similarly, the recent national PPP poll question on vaccines doesn't support that claim. Energy, particularly nuclear -- that is at least semi-accurate. And while I've heard opponents worry about risk of groundwater contamination and of increased rates of forming sinkholes, your reference to "fracking will cause the Earth to deflate" seems a straw man.

    You may write this off from my wanting to "rationalize the right is a lot worse", but I can counterclaim that you merely want to rationalize that both sides are equally bad, and point out you're not presenting specific sources to back your assertions.

    And I'm not finding more than anecdata to support that "people in the middle don't see it". Got any polling to point to?

    Hank
    I am not going to rewrite both a book and dozens of articles for you in a comment.  You are doing the same thing you don't like in climate deniers - you want the world to do the work for you so you can then instill doubt and declare that you are right and people who actually do anything are stupid. You're insisting right bad/left good - it's black and white, cut and dried, and then you rationalize away every bit of data that shows it to be made-up nonsense framed that way by science media that is overwhelmingly partisan.

    Example: when you find inconvenient data that disputes your 'Republicans stink' conjecture, like that it's the liberal states that don't vaccinate, you suddenly prefer polls over actual CDC statistics. Your contention that just as many people on the right are against GMOs as the left is flat-out goofy. Democrats are the ones creating laws to mandate GMO labeling, California tried to make it a law and Washington is now attempting as well. Hardly Republican bastions. If even one person on the right agrees with something the left is idiotic about, to you it is bipartisan anti-science but if the right has a higher percentage of anything, the issue is settled, the right is anti-science. 
    logicman
    Congratulations, Hank.  You have achieved such a balance in this article that the left sees you as right-wing and the right sees you as left-wing.  It seems that neither of these rival clans can accept you as a middle of the road kind of guy.
    Hank
    A blonde in hot pants and go-go boots singing a song that is clearly about me??  It doesn't get any better than that.
    MikeCrow
    You missed:
    This article to my mind reeks of anti-Libertarian bigotry not worthy of a scientist.

    The trifecta!
    Never is a long time.
    logicman
    You missed:
    This article to my mind reeks of anti-Libertarian bigotry not worthy of a scientist.

    The trifecta!

    Just for you, Mi Cro.
    False equivalent. Equaitng liberals who just want to know if their food has been genecticly modified
    to conservatives who deny climate change or evolution and refuse to even take small steps to address it.
    Liberals are not calling for a ban on GMO's,the ballot initiative in California was just for a label
    I personally consume GMO's,but I respect other people's right to know. You have republican presidential candidates
    claiming to eliminate the department of energy(Rick Perry), and eliminate the EPA(Newt Gingrich). Nobody knows the thirty year risk of consuming food that have genes transferred via dead virus's,on the human physiology. We know it causes no immediate harm,but consumers have the right to do their own risk assessment.

    The Vaccine realm, Michelle Bachmann straight out claimed that Gardisil caused,a girl to become paralyzed
    when President Obama was a candidate,he merely suggested that the link between autism and vaccines be looked into(he probably was just pandering).These are two completely different things. President Obama has approved GMO salmon for god sakes.

    Energy,liberals are being flexible. Exploratory wells for fracking are in California,a super liberal state,and also Illinois in the southern part of the state. Republicans are still screaming about Fisker and Solyndra,even though if you look at the performance of the DOE loan program as a whole. its actually performing. No bank in the country has a 100%
    repayment rate. In the event that someone could have a 100% repayment rate I am sure we would all become bankers.

    Nuclear power works without subsidy,that is laughable. Every nuclear power plant in the country has to be insured by the federal government,or else no investor would touch it. The expectation that solar power would be competitive with coal,just because Obama spent money,is like saying just because Regan spent money on the arpanet in the pentagon and the retail world wide web was not up and running in 1989 means it was a failure. Solar prices continue to drop dramatically each year,because of production capacity and technological improvement in panel efficiency. Developing countries like India have solar competitive with coal and LNG without subsidy. Solar will get cheaper fossil fuels will remain at the same price or more likely go higher. Natural gas prices have already doubled from a year ago.

    Liberals are doing the responsible thing,by dealing with the realities of today,and preparing for the future.
    I will admit the mechanics liberals use to address problems could be alot more efficient,but at least they are not delusional or ideologically inflexible like conservatives.

    Hank
    False equivalent. 
    This is a fake logical fallacy invented by journalists in 2004 who needed to argue why Bush's military record was right to beat on but John Kerry's was not.  Today, it is basically progressive codespeak for 'your data are inconvenient so let's remove them and focus on what is important; Republicans suck'.  Ironically, by using it, you use a real logical fallacy.

    No one disputes Bachmann is a quack for doing about vaccines what 52 Democrats did about GMOs - taking an anecdote as evidence. Yet you seem to think the problem only exists on one side, which means you are just telling us how you vote.
    John Kerry received a purple heart and was actually involved in combat,even if swift boat was true. He was actually involved in live combat. Bush was not even close to real combat. Comparing somebody with a purple heart to somebody in the national guard is like comparing Micheal Jordans athletic ability to somebody who is on a college team warming the bench..

    Democrats has any law been pass making GMO's illegal,didnt Obama just pass a law prohibiting the banning
    of any GMO food. Republicans are trying to pass laws in New Orleans right now to portray creationism as a legit science. I thought Bobby Jindal was one of the more sane republicans. The anti- science brigade is orders of magnitude higher on the right. The anti-GMO position also has something to do with Monsanto's business practices as well,not just the science.

    Hank
    It's still subjective. The fact that you only see it in one state - which happens to be Republican - shows your confirmation bias. When a Democratic governor used Kentucky taxpayer money to a creationist theme park, progressive apologists rationalized it was about jobs, not an anti-science mentality. Really, you have to get out of your partisan bubble.  In California the anti-science beliefs overwhelm everything on politics and culture but the state is 70% Democrats.

    There is no 'magnitude higher' on the right, you just refuse to see it among those with your political beliefs.
    MikeCrow
    Liberals are doing the responsible thing,by dealing with the realities of today,and preparing for the future.
    Right.

    These are the causalities of the artificially high costs of energy. You're killing people now, on the slim chance that something, anything might happening in the future, well other than the Sun continuing it's decline, which will truly be a catastrophe.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    You're killing people now, on the slim chance that something, anything might happening in the future ...
    What?>???   Are you really suggesting that one should wait for events to materialize before taking action?  After all, I seem to recall that we have had soldiers in two wars over the past several years based exclusively on the premise of a "slim chance event" being important enough to kill people today.

    You may think that it's not fair comparing political military action to energy costs, but you brought up killing people, and I can't think of anything more relevant that such an overt act based on thin air speculation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Are you really suggesting that one should wait for events to materialize before taking action?

    I think you have to weigh the cost of acting now, vs acting later, as well as weighing how effective action now will be. And the only thing acting now will do is pick our pockets, it isn't going to actually reduce atm CO2. Note, the predominate course of action called for is carbon taxes of some sort, or renewable energy, both of which are detrimental.

    If you want action that will help, let's start building nuclear power plants, we need to do that anyhow.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    I would be more comfortable if you had simply asserted that we don't know what we're doing, or that we can't predict the outcome.  A phrase like "pick our pockets" is simply political innuendo.

    The point being that politicians [and most political agenda] have no problem "picking pockets" just so long as it's something they favor. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    That's my point, it's being used to collect revenues, an excuse. All your other points are true, but the politicos know a good con-job when they see one.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, you're missing my point.  It doesn't matter what it costs if it's a real problem and if it's something that we actually know how to fix.  Despite the stupidity in Washington and the agendas of both red/blue, the reality is that no one has ever been shy about spending money they didn't have if they felt it was "important".  That's why we have the debacle of two economically ruinous wars, and the Wall Street bail-outs, etc. etc. etc.

    I am not personally interested in whether people think money should be spent or not.  I want to know that we have a bonafide solution and aren't simply tinkering so that we can pretend like we're doing something.

    I guess one thing I'm put off by is the notion that one political party/faction or another is somehow averse to spending money.  They will all spend it.  The only conflict is that they disagree on what it should be spent on, but they will all spend it as readily as anyone.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    No, I didn't miss your point. You're missing mine. What they're wasting our money on will not reduce atm co2, will not lower temperatures.

    Actually to be fair, the numbers I found is 0.19 degree drop in temp for the full compliance to Kyoto.
    Last night it was clear out, and from 8:00-12:00 the wind stopped, from 8:00-10:00 the temperature dropped 13 degrees, from the 85 degree high at ~6:00, to 55 degrees shortly after sunrise at 6:45 it dropped 30 degrees.
    Never is a long time.
    This thread ignores the reality on the ground.

    Forget what voters think, look at the electable candidates. In the last GOP primary, we had 10 out of 11 candidates outright deny that climate change exists and that evolution is real. That's your evidence. To be electable in the GOP, you need to be anti-science. What the individual voters' beliefs and views are irrevelent, they have chosen the anti-science candidate for 12 years in a row now in Bush, McCain and Romney. Candidates that have a pro-science view of the world (eg accept evolution and accept climate change) have been resoundly defeated in the GOP primaries.

    Furthermore, we have gems like this from Rep. Lamar Smith (R) which would do away with peer reviewed grants in the NSF (http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2013/04/us-lawmaker-proposes-n...) and require political approval of all federally-funded research (http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/05/02/republican-congressman-introduce...). This kind of scientific hostility has not been seen on the Democratic side in recent history (if at all). We aren't talking about the '50s and '60s when both parties were pro-science, pro-advancement. The GOP has a radical agenda shaped by donors and ideology that precludes the scientific method.

    Ignoring these realities on the ground and in the political sphere paints a false equivalency between the two sides.

    Hank
    To be electable in the GOP, you need to be anti-science. 
    To be electable in either party, you need to be anti-science. Politics is not science, science is just a tool when it helps them advance their agenda. The scientization of politics shows it - when President Obama stalls Keystone XL, overruling the government scientists who studied it for years, or edited the BP spill reports to conclude what he wanted, it was exactly the same as what Bush did. When Reid of Nevada got Yucca Mountain canned, it was more proof that Democrats don't care about science but they care about their constituents - and there are fewer anti-science Democrats on issues that get big media attention (global warming), but they are anti-science on a whole lot more issues, like energy.

    On the Lamar Smith bill, you have certainly mastered your framing, and that Science editorial can hardly be called journalism.  Do you disagree that the NSF should fund science?  Because in public everyone in science circles the wagons against Republicans when stories like this come out and in private, every single scientist I have ever met wonders about much of the non-science nonsense that gets funded by an agency with Science as its middle name.  So a standard for transparency that every federal agency must show - even the military - does not apply to the NSF, they get to just approve studies of Farmville and no one can ever ask why?  Taxpayers and their representatives have no voice? Give me a break.

    If they were advocating cutting funding for science, I might agree with you. But they aren't. They want to increase funding for basic science research by making sociological nonsense go elsewhere and putting an end to waste and duplication.  

    Now, you won't agree with any of what I just wrote but using the term 'false equivalence' tells me you were not evidence-based anyway. As I have noted in other articles, that term is progressive codespeak for 'Only Republicans stink and no evidence will never change that'. It's more suited for ThinkProgress than a science site.
    You are bending over backwards, grasping at straws, anything in order to justify your position.

    Hank
    No, you are going out of your way to polarize and demonize people who don't adapt your pet beliefs. You can't acknowledge anything bad about people on the left or anything good about people on the right. Stereotypes and caricatures have their place - in politics - but don't belong in science. 
    Okay, I have to respond to this.

    First off, none of those examples you talked about directly contradicts standing scientific consensus. They are NIMBY disputes. Reid has never come out and said that nuclear waste is not radioactive, therefore, we don't need to store it. Obama has never said that oil/gas doesn't produce energy, therefore we don't need to transport it to the US. They are policy dispute and NIMBY disputes. This is vastly different than the GOP's assertion that climate change does not exist, that evolution is false, etc etc. No Democrat has advanced proposals that would radically alter the way grants are funded. No Democrat has introduced legislation that would require political approval of peer-reviewed articles.

    Secondly, your assertion that "social science" isn't worthy of funding smacks of what exactly every scientist should be afraid of. You sound like McCain who decried "honeybee research" in 2008, when said research directly informs us of our knowledge on brain circuity and autism. Or how about the seemingly irrevelent physical phenomenon in which nuclei in a magnetic field absorb and re-emit electromagnetic radiation (oh wait, that's the basis for MRIs). Or what about this research into mussel physiology that led to advancements in wet-adhesive chemistry? In the early 20th century, research into esoteric quantum mechanic phenomenom paved the way for modern electronics. If we start gating research based on how it sounds to laymen and politicians, we risk losing the next dozen scientific breakthroughs. Of course none of us are in a position to comment on this research because we aren't experts in the field nor do we have any inkling where such basic science can take us. History is replete of examples where serendiptious or seemingly useless research actually revolutionized the way modern society works.

    BTW, your disparaging remarks on "Farmville research" shows your ignorance. Research into World of Warcraft players helped refine and predict epidemiological behavior; if I had better google-fu, I could probably point out another dozen studies on seemingly worthless research that ended up broadening and deepening our understanding of both the physical and social world.

    Hank
     History is replete of examples where serendiptious or seemingly useless research actually revolutionized the way modern society works.
    Then why have a committee at all?  Why not just give everyone who applies funding if there is no standard that doesn't match what you say here?  Cold fusion is equivalent to cancer research in your world of magical social science relativism.
     Research into World of Warcraft players helped refine and predict epidemiological behavio
    Nonsense.  First, the people who need to understand the psyche of Farmville players are working at the company that makes it - and they do understand them, inside and out. That WoW was the only to get some improvement in epidemiology - dopey scientists can't do it, only sociology can! - is silly.

    But guilty as charged.  In a finite budget of the National SCIENCE Foundation, I do want them to fund science. You instead want to broaden the definition of science to be anything that will get a pet cause some funding.  I'd like to play Everquest for a year, can you write that grant for me?  
    A committee is necessary because money is finite. If it were up to me, I'd fund as much science as possible, but that's clearly not possible. However, the only thing that should be evaluated in a scientific proposal is the scientific rigor and study design, not whether or not the science fits some vague definition of "usefulness" or fulfills an ROI rubric.

    I don't even get what you are trying to say in the second paragraph. That's like saying the only people who need to study oil are the oil companies or the only people who need to study water quality are the water utilities. There is information and insight to be gained in nearly every facet of life; whether that be Farmville, World of Warcraft, the penis of Amazonian beetles or galaxies billions of light-years away. There doesn't need to be a committee from up high (composed of political appointees no less) deciding what is worth funding and what isn't.

    If you can come up with a valid scientific question and come up with a rigorous scientific model that answers a question, then I'd fund that proposal. Your poor attempt at a strawman won't make me back down from my principles.

    MikeCrow
    And who should pay for all of this science you think should be funded?
    Never is a long time.
    MikeCrow
    This is vastly different than the GOP's assertion that climate change does not exist

    One of the issues with statements like this, is it can mean a half dozen different things.
    • Is the climate changing: Of course.
    • Is it getting warmer: It was based on thermometer records (Which are mostly in cities surrounded by concrete and asphalt) and some anecdotal evidence, best evidence now says it stopped getting statistically warmer about 15 years ago.
    • Is it warmer than ever: Probably not, proxies are proxies any evidence is all indirect, and difficult to compare to current proxies.
    • Is it warmer than the 30's-40's: Maybe a slight amount, but it's hard to tell temperature was far less sampled then.
    • Is it warmer than the MWP: Probably not, Greenland was warmer then.
      • Was the MWP global: This is debatable, many claim it wasn't and that it's based on a small number of samples (proxies again), though new research near Antarctica says they detected warming about the same time, Others say it wasn't at the same time (proxies).
    • Is warming anthropogenic: Well some surely is, Land usage, UHIE definitely alter the temperature record. A good question is, is it warmer away from all the human built stuff? Co2 likely traps some heat, but night time cooling doesn't show any trend in a loss of cooling.
    • Is it going to continue to get warmer: Lots of maybes.
      • If the models are right yes, but actual temperatures are already at the lower edge of the ensemble model run, so they are mostly like wrong, and over estimate climate sensitivity.
      • A number of recent papers are already suggesting CS is most likely lower than 2C/doubling, which is pretty close to co2 not being a problem at all.
      • There's some evidence the extra co2 is greening up the planet, making it easier to feed everyone.
      • The Sun is heading into unprecedented (at least in modern times) territory, Solar cycle 24 was very quite, SC 25 is now projecting to be quieter still, Maunder Minimum territory kind of quite. Most Ice Ages were preceded by a warm spell, if the Sun is getting ready for a nap, extra co2 is not only the least of our worries, it might be the difference between a really bad time, and a ice age. But it's likely we'll know soon (5 years or so) if it's getting cold or not.

    And I can go on.
    Never is a long time.
    logicman
    Mi Cro: I only have time to deal with one of the arguments you list, but the others have been rebutted by actual working climate scientists many times.

    Is it getting warmer: It was based on thermometer records (Which are mostly in cities surrounded by concrete and asphalt) and some anecdotal evidence, best evidence now says it stopped getting statistically warmer about 15 years ago.

    "It was based on thermometer records" - no it wasn't.  That straw man was erected by Watts.  Quite apart from statistically accurate ground station and satellite observations, scientifically trained observers have reported multiple biological indicators of temperature gradients shifting upslope and northwards.  The bioindicators have been reported in multiple scientific papers and do not constitute anecdotal evidence.

    "best evidence now says it stopped getting statistically warmer about 15 years ago" - that particular internet myth stems from a false simplification of a statement made about error bars.  The general public does not understand what is meant by statistical significance. It does not mean the same as significance, but mention 'adjective' to any ordinary person and you will get a blank look.

    Global warming did not stop in [insert date].
    MikeCrow
    Jones, Schmidt, and Hansen have all been quoted that temperatures have been flat.
    But it's really inconvenient, so there's lot of angst over it, and lots of attempts to dismiss it.

    You might have missed the amaturish blogs I've written(follow my name). But while the writing isn't so great, the data analysis is good.
    And I'm not really dismissing any warming, the cause and danger of it is a different story.
    Never is a long time.
    logicman
    Have you read James Hansen's recent essay on climate science communication. ?
    Apr. 15, 2013: Exaggeration, Jumping the Gun, and Venus Syndrome