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Dr. Steve Running. Photo courtesy of the University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation.

Nobel Winner Lectures on ‘The Five Stages of Climate Grief’

Since learning last month that he was a co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, University of Montana professor Steve Running has received many letters and emails regarding his win, and not all have been congratulatory.

The hate mail, Running said in a lecture at the UM campus Monday evening, has come from those going through the “anger” phase of what Running calls “The Five Stages of Climate Grief.”
Running, a professor in UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation, won the Nobel for his work as one of the leading authors of the fourth assessment report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC was formed in 1988 by two United Nations organizations. Scientists from around the world were chosen to analyze a huge amount of data on climate change and compile it into reports. Each of the panel’s reports, particularly the latest one, has emphasized three major points: the Earth is getting warmer; it’s getting warmer quickly; and it’s getting warmer because of human activity.

In Monday’s speech Running adapted Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Five Stages of Grief” model to apply to climate change. Running said there are those in denial (the earth isn’t getting warmer, and if it is it isn’t our fault); those who are angry; those who are bargaining (“It was always too cold in Montana, anyway,” Running quipped); those who are depressed; and those who have come to accept climate change as a fact.

Running would like to see more people moving to the acceptance or, as he called it, the “let’s get to work” phase.

After briefly explaining the difference between climate and weather – weather is delivered directly from the atmosphere; climate is weather trends over a long period of time – Running provided many grim examples of how climate change will likely affect Montana if warming trends continue as predicted. All the glaciers in Glacier Park may be gone by 2020, Running said. In 50 years Missoula won’t receive any snowfall. The fire season will continue to get longer and more intense. Snowpacks at high altitudes will continue to diminish.

The worst case climate scenario, which would occur if world carbon emissions keep rising at their current annual rate, is so bad, Running said, that climate scientists aren’t even sure if the Earth could maintain a functioning biosphere at that temperature. To avoid this fate, Running said, drastic measures must be taken. According to Running, the work of climate scientists is largely done.

“[The problem of global warming] is becoming a political science question and not a climate science question,” Running said. “We need politicians willing to admit we’re in a big pickle.”

Running also said American society needs to be “willing to do a little sacrificing.”

Though he knows it won’t be pretty, and certainly not popular, Running believes that the government must begin drastically increasing the taxes on oil. Running would like to see the price of gasoline rise a dollar a gallon each year for the next five. Running said that he isn’t a big fan of cap and trade, a policy of taxation that would target corporate polluters.

This taxation proposal, Running said, would provide serious incentive to create new energy technologies.

“If [a tax] affected everybody,” Running said, “it would get everybody’s attention.”

Running also emphasized that to help slow global warming we must come up with innovative energy solutions and leave coal in the ground.

Though the picture he painted was certainly bleak, Running did offer a few words of encouragement. In the 1970’s, Running said, nobody could have possibly imagined a gadget as sophisticated as the iPhone. Advances in communications technology in recent years have been almost unfathomable, Running said.

“[Think] what we did for communications technology,” Running said. “We have to do the same thing for energy for the next 40 years.”

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  1. We don’t have time for uneducated people to go through these five stages. It’s long past time for us to get to work. Funny that we’ll listen to a scinetist, who gives us good news, but lambaqst those who tell us something want, but desperately need to hear.

  2. As an Econ student I surmise that a dollar a year for the next five is entirely unfounded. The number should be much smaller. As is there are many solutions coming out that have been in the workings since the original oil crisis in 1973. last time it was opec doing what it does best, IE, being a nuisance, this time its the asian market developing into an oil using economy. The real solution it would seem would be to raise the price of oil in order to find more efficient means of transportation, and while we could stem the use of oil on a personal level I do not know what could be done to effect the transportation of large scale goods on big rigs and the like. Very good article though. As someone who does not usually support a lot of the misinformation coming from everyone who decides to hop on the global warming bus, this article is very accurate and informative.

  3. Problem: global warming

    Solution: taxes


  4. Here’s something you might want to take into consideration… For those who are too young to remember, scientists in the early seventies were crying that the planet was heading for an ice age and that everyone needed to be prepared for that event. Very few people will deny that the planet might be getting warmer but the majority of people will not want to jump on this bandwagon just because they are told the sky is falling. Sorry but if you cry wolf too many times, you are going to get ignored.

  5. Looks like we’ve got a couple of “stage one” individuals in here already.


  6. The five stages seem correct. But it is possible the good Dr. has them in reverse sequence. We’ll know that in perhaps 5 or 10 years.

    Far too many very qualified “deniers” remain for this question to be put to bed. I’m suspicious of any scientist who choses not to continue to learn. Clean the air…yep! Develop alternative fuels…yep! Dump vast monies into a fix for a problem that is yet to be clearly defined…nope!

    Climate Change is ongoing. The level of human contribution is an open question.

  7. What’s so great about the way we’re all living now?

  8. Joebo, you are perhaps the least well informed person I can imagine. Live in huts? NO global warming? As if you could possibly know if either of those things were true, given the environment in which information is released currently. You act as if there is some unpoliticized side to choose from, and that the side you choose is necessarily that side. Come to grips with the fact that perhaps it is absurd to drive 3 miles to the store when you can ride a bicycle there or take the bus. It isn’t about regressing into the dawn of our forebears, and living as they did. It is about living responsibly. This doesnt even necessarily mean responsible as far as global warming in concerned: what you and a large majority of the population seem to NOT GET is that there are bigger problems than global warming. For instance, Bush’s Clean Skies bill which in fact detracts from the standards set by the currently working Clean Air Act. Not to mention the slowdown of the cleanup of SuperFund sites, because the people who are CONTRIBUTING to dumping toxic chemicals in our lovely environment no longer have to PAY TO CLEAN IT UP: it has been relegated to us taxpayers. That isn’t enough? Perhaps the alarming loss of biodiversity, the increased amoung of logging “old growth” forest, the fact that people who wish to live a different lifestyle than you (namely one almost certainly more in touch with nature) are having an increasingly difficult time because of water pollution; perhaps this is all enough for you to think, ‘Whoa, maybe I am living a life of excess and mindless consumption.’ And maybe you also think, ‘Hey, I like this! it is my right to do as I please: Who are you to infringe on that!?’ Who I am, sir, is a man working my way towards a different lifestyle that your own lifestyle is KILLING WITHOUT REMORSE. Please get a clue. Global Warming is just some big scare that politicians throw up in the air to pull the public’s collective eyes up towards it, while we catch a tennis ball in the throat.

  9. Congratulations to you, Dr. Running. Sharing a Nobel Prize is an overwhelming accomplishment. You should be justly proud and all Montanans of good sense and legitimate breeding should be justly proud of you.

  10. It is quite evident that anything that leads to “name calling” or “categorizing” dissenters is politically based. Any scientist who completely writes off another scientist’s work because it doesn’t agree with theirs is no scientist at all. Such a one does not really seek the truth…only THEIR truth – or a truth to please someone else. The Medieval Church called dissenters “heretics” and those people were written off. It’s no different here. Rather than ASSUME the opposing opinion is false, give it a serious ear – that would be the RESPONSIBLE thing to do – not tell them that they have this stage or that in Global Warming Denialitis. Running headlong into ANYTHING is foolish – especially when the risks are great either way. Before politicians get involved – and awards are tossed out like candy at a parade – scientists should really (REALLY) look at each other’s work fairly.

    Lastly, the Nobel Peace Prize no longer represents it’s intended purpose – just as the UN does not represent its created purpose. Instead, the Nobel Peace Prize is doled out for political reasons (as the fact that not one, but two received the “prize” for work in global warming) while deserving folks who worked with poor children in poor countries, bringing them to health are sorely overlooked. Why? Probably because there’s no money in children, but there is money in taxing emissions.

  11. Well, we’ve finally got to the point where, if the Nobel is awarded to somebody whose views we disagree with, we attack the validity of the Nobel….We’ve all learned so much over the past seven years.

  12. To have participated in a Nobel prize, you must have adequate knowledge to understand that first, you get your science right, then you examine the politics and economics. Many, many experienced scientists simply do not believe the science is settled.

    Tip 1. Never underestimate the resourceful nature of mankind when presented with a real problem.

    Tip 2. Remember the Club of Rome outcome.

    Tip 3. Read Malthus.

    Tip 4. Read “The Population Bomb” by Paul R. Ehrlich 1968

    Tip 5. Don’t read Al Gore, he’s often wrong and knows it.

  13. “In the 1970’s, Running said, nobody could have possibly imagined a gadget as sophisticated as the iPhone. Advances in communications technology in recent years have been almost unfathomable, Running said.”

    And we got here by imposing strict government regulation, bureaucracy-guided research and 1000% taxes on the communication industry, right? Party lines make much more efficient use of the resource than wasteful private lines that are not fully utilized. Or better yet, just have one phone per city – a “responsible communication” advocate should have no problem walking / biking 3 miles to city hall, on a government-mandated schedule, to make or receive previously-scheduled phone calls.

    The iPhone wasn’t developed through a government program, it was the response of a company producing what people wanted. People will pay a premium for it now – in another couple years all the features of the iPhone will be standard commodity offerings from many vendors.

    Some people are willing to pay a premium to drive a hybrid car, and as they fund the early development, more efficient, less expensive versions come to market. When driving a hydrogen-powered car becomes an affordable alternative, environmentally minded people will switch, followed by the general public when it becomes cheaper than petro power.

    If the government gets involved at all (which should be with great caution), it should be with positive incentives rather than punitive measures. Even that can go awry, as with the Ethanol debacle of mismanagement, greed, and unintended consequences. If the activists succeed in tripling our transportation costs, the economy will collapse and there won’t be anyone who can afford to do anything about carbon emissions.

  14. When this continent was first “discovered” by the “civilized”, and “superior” Europeans, the rightful residents (I don’t say owners because they did not believe one could own land, only live on it.) of the continent lived in “huts”, hunted, fished, traded and farmed. They could breath clean air, walk to any stream for a drink when thirsty, and had very strong family and social ties. They had no word for “lie”, and understood all too well that they did not just live in their environment, but were active and responsible participants in it. They had been here thousands of years with minimal environmental impact. There is currently no place on the planet that is free of human pollution. Breast milk from some Inuit women has been shown to have such high concentrations of harmful chemicals that if found in the environment, would be classified as toxic waste. But I guess that is what they get for living in “huts” and being self sustaining.
    If people choose to remain blind to the human impact on the ecosystem, they may be lucky enough to finish out there time on this planet before reality smacks them in the face (and I say “choose” because that is exactly what it is). But it sure is one heck of a way to tell your kids you love them. “Hey kids, you’ll get used to the gas masks and having to be completely covered from head to toe whenever you go outside/above ground (why would you want to though?). And the water rationing won’t be so bad, and the artificial nutrients are getting better tasting every year. Here are some nice pictures of those forests and lakes I used to talk about. That’s right, rivers used to flow, and water outside actually used to be clear (thought not clean for quite some time). No, no, no, humans had nothing to do with this at all; it was just the natural course of things. Have a wonderful life”.
    Wake up people. If not for yourselves, than for the legacy that is in danger of being snuffed out.

  15. Dr. John Christy was a co-recipient like Dr. Running. Read his CNN interview here:

    The latest science on the ‘chicken-egg’ conundrum shows, from examining ice core samples, that the earth began to warm before the rise in CO2. See: This is Dr. Christy’s point that there are so many things yet to learn about climate change.

  16. Yes, C, man is using a lot of the earth’s resources; he may not be changing the climate doing so.

  17. A few observations:

    #1: There are indeed people who are in complete denial about this issue, wanting to believe so badly that there isn’t an issue, that they’re willing to scrape for every piece of false and superfluous data they can. But what do you expect when so many are flat-earth/creationists?

    #2: The above said, Dr. Running’s idea that the planet is necessarily going to repeat another Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum is highly speculative at best. There simply isn’t the data to make that kind of prediction. Further, certain technologies, such as mixing deep and upper layers of ocean water, could create a major impact on global climate without much cost.

    #3: Regardless of the global warming “debate” (denial), the issue of energy is going to be one that dominates the lives of our children and grandchildren. We live in an age of cheap food derived from mechanized agriculture that runs on fossil fuels. Even if global warming wasn’t an issue, that simply can’t last. One day, 10 years or 100 in the future, dwindling gas will cost the equivalent of $12.00 a gallon (where it’s cheap). What will food cost then? How will it get trucked to market? Now is the time to address those issues are – not after the world population doubles and we’re faced with mass starvation.

    #4: Taxes raising may be bad; tax shifting is not. If you raise taxes on gas (bad) and use the money to cut taxes on good things we presently tax (like employment), you get less bad things, and more good things happening. In other words, this doesn’t have to be a partisan issue. (It may still be because Republicans appear to have been taken over by the insane wing of their party, but that’s not Al Gore’s fault.)

  18. The post on “skeptical science” was interesting. It is apparent that the person keeping the website has failed to read any of the latest studies disputing AGW. McInyre’s website addresses new studies and is far more friendly to discussion than is Mann’s Cimate Audit.

    As someone else mentioned, co-Nobel winner John Christy is also at variance with the IPCC’s conclusions on Global warming. Bottom line the IPCC is a political organization. The final reports are written by politicians and bureaucrats, read the IPCC Guidlines and procedures. For those who think there is no debate try reading the actual comments by IPCC reviewers:

    Ad hominem attacks have nothing to do with science and neither further scientific discourse nor promote the validity of the speaker’s point of view.

    Bottom line the evidence CO2 as THE driving force for climate change is not there. In fact it follows, by some 700-800 years, warming not precedes it, which means, for those who have conceptual difficulties, that it can’t be a cause.

    Finally, and this is critical to those who advocate the primacy of science – consensus is a political concept, not a scientific one. One study can disprove a plethora of studies to the contrary.

  19. I just need to echo ‘lone voice’ above:


    Our culture is certifiably insane. The foundation of our way of life is violence. We’re as free as cattle at an auction, complete with prods. And, like domesticated versus their still wild brethren, we’re becoming less intelligent the farther along the road of “progress” we get.

    Anyone worried about losing their automobile is probably too far gone to even WANT to know what real freedom is.

  20. Rupert, the answer is quality of life. Perhaps your life is a bit unsatisfying. Now, consider that we have over 12 million people voting with their feet to come here illegally in the hope of a better life. I don’t see the stream leaving that would indicate they didn’t find it here. There is a plethora of examples in my own life but I’ll list just one. My son who is now a 20 something would not have lived beyond the age of 3 without the advantages we have now.

  21. Thought-provoking article and comments. I’m still in the camp of finding money to pour into alternative energy development. If I (and my daughter) get taxed $1-$2-$3 a gallon, the only folks you’ll see at Arches and Jellystone will be those driving the humvees and motorhomes. Those of us with lower incomes won’t be going anywhere. Doesn’t seem fair or right, so I’m thinking there still must be a better solution. I’m making sacrifices every single day, but the people moving here and building million dollar energy-inefficient homes are not making ANY sacrifices because they don’t have to and don’t care to.

  22. Good Grief x 5!
    I’d bet that neither Rupert nor lone voice have ever carried water for a bath, to flush, to drink, etc. I’ll bet they have never had to go out and use the outhouse when it was -10 or 20. They might have to find out if we keep using up all of our water though and have to buy it in bottles. Bet they do not remember when the phone was put in, nor when the electric was. If they had ever done any of these things they would know what is so great abouot how we live now.

  23. I know what you mean, Marion. A hot shower after a few long days out in the cold ranks among life’s great pleasures.

    But I have done all the things you mention here, and have lived in many places where there was no electricity ( a big town on the Amazon, for one, dozens of saw camps for others) and I have to tell you that the lack of those things does not mean your life is ruined. In fact, it is the terror of losing those enormous comforts that is, in my opinion, most ruinous to freedom and happiness. You’ve had a long, hard working life, from what I understand from your posts– you have seen alot. Now, I ask you, are all these folks who can’t get ten feet away from the thermostat, who have to have the bathroom at 75 degrees or the day is wrecked, are they happier? Are they free?

    Isn’t it possible that all those comforts you mention are making us all slaves of an energy economy over which we have no control? Slaves of whoever owns the power sources and can threaten to turn them off? Better not complain about the pollution from the coal plant, pal, or we’ll cut your computer off. Don’t like clearcuts?
    Wipe your *** with a spotted owl! yes, we are builiding ten thousands miles of road, walled with knapweed, to our new gas wells on public land, but you like a hot shower, don’t you?

    I think what rupert and lone voice were saying is that if you look around, the way we are living now really does look unsustainable. I think they are asking whether, given the realities of the day, all of these comforts are really worth the cost of everybody’s future.

  24. Well Hal, I can tell you that I do appreciate a warm house when it is zero or below, and no I don’t want to give it up, nor do I want to carry water, or light a lamp.
    The fact is we ALL are using our resources and despite the sneering aboout cutting off the electric, etc you use it too even while you bereate the producers. Once more, the problem is not the producer, it is the consumer, and it seems to me that those that beller the most about what others use are themselves even bigger users.
    If you want to cut consumption, lead by example, don’t try to force the rest of us to give up small pleasures so there is more for you, and that seems to be the basic premise of enviros.

  25. The most interesting thing about this conversation is those who adhere to the AGW point of view are addressing political, societal and life style issues as if there is no need to discuss the science of global warming. The fact is that there is considerable disagreement regarding man’s role in our warming climate. Until and unless man’s role is completely understood any steps taken are simply symbolic political posturing.

    Issues regarding energy independence or whether or not we are living a decadent lifestyle are irrelevant to the discussion.

  26. Frank, you are right that the issue of whether man truly has any real effect on global climate has never been settled. However I truly believe that if those who claim to believe so strongly actually did believe it, they themsleves would be making drastic changes in their own lifestyle. I do not see that happening.
    My feeling is that gw typifies the whole environmental movement of control of other folks for the sake of control itself. This time there is no credible excuse they can make that it is necessary for everyone except themselves to live a very sparse lifestyle. If their lavish lifestyles are not a problem neither is anyone else’s, nor is production of the fuel and food we need a problem.

  27. As you say Marion, “We ALL are using our resources…”

    But many people are trying very hard to figure out how to use those resources more efficiently and less destructively. I truly cannot understand why you- a person of obvious intelligence- would cast your lot with, and make your arguments for, those who deny that we can do better.

    Especially when most of those who deny that we can do better are doing so because they want to keep making record profits from the current unsustainable energy equation.

    I don’t know anything about global warming except that enough people will argue over its cause that nothing will ever be done to address it. I just know that it is getting warmer and drier every year, based on data from the weather services and my own observation. For me and my family, it’s more a question of how to live well in the new climate that is developing.

    But it is fascinating-utterly fascinating– to me that a large group of educated and affluent people would seize upon the questions over the causes of global warming, to argue forcefully that we should continue to burn coal, drive inefficient vehicles, heat uninsulated megahomes with natural gas, and pay billions to oil-rich Islamic jihadis to fuel the most inefficient transportation system ever known to man.

    That (and I am not “sneering”) is the dangedest, jaw droppingest, most baffling single thing I have ever encountered. I’d give a lot to understand it.

  28. what I find facinating is the fact that those who talk about man caused global warming do nothing but talk about it. If anyone mentions Gore and his movie stars and their obscene use of resources other believers jump right in and defend their overuse. Look at the stupid concerts they ahve around the world for “saving the planet”, encouraging folks to fly and drive and of course consume cases of bottled water. Really a big help to the planet whether there is any human effect on the temp or not.
    I don’t know that anyone is advocating all of the use you just mentioned, but the fact remains, so called enviros are using the most while trying to insist the rest of us freeze to death. Those who produce fuel, food, and housing are filling a need.
    Someone mentioned the other day that my other vehicle is a deisel truck and it has a camper. I have owned it for 11 1/2 years and I have never and will never use the 46,000 gallons of diesel that is laying on the bottom of the ocean in that cruise ship for enviros checking the global warming of Antarctica.
    What youu say doesn’t save anything, what you do is what matters. No matter what you call fuel producers, it is you that keeps them looking for ever more fuel. Again, enviros do not understand how they should be impacted by any of their big ideas and plans, but if you truly believe that global warming is man casued that is exactly what you yourself would do.

  29. Hal said: “I don’t know anything about global warming except that enough people will argue over its cause that nothing will ever be done to address it. ”

    How does one address a perceived issue without knowing its cause? If as many suspect, CO2 is not the driving force for the warming climate, then why must we focus on CO2? If the warming climate is primarily driven by natural cyclical factors, which is most likely, then simply spending time, effort and money on adapting to the changing climate is the most intelligent thing to do. Even if every country, every man woman and child in the world adhered to the Kyoto document the impact on the temperature would be on the order of 0.05C over the next 100 years. The estimated increase in our temperature over the past 100 years is only 0.6C and that is just barely within the margin of error (+/- 0.7C).
    The climate on this planet has always changed. It has been far warmer than it currently is. More importantly, it has been far colder, for far longer periods of time than it is today. CO2 in the atmosphere has been far greater than it is today as well as far less. Sticking a wet finger in the air and saying, “Gee it’s getting warmer. Something must be done.” is hardly scientific proof that something needs to be done. Nor are the computer models that predict dire disaster yet can’t explain why things are not playing out according to their predictions.

  30. Gosh, there you all go again, pointing fingers at us “enviros” instead of looking at your own life and beginning to make a few changes–the truth is those of us who love the natural world and hope it is still available for our off spring have been making changes in our life styles for many years and any of us could look any of you in the eye and not blink–we have the high road and know it –Steve Running and his many cohorts and Al Gore are telling it like it is–no matter how many nay say–it is happening and we all need to try and figure out how to win this one or generations to come will look back at our times and say how stupid of those guys–they could have tried–I am going to try and I hope you will.

  31. Craig–the conservative judge that ruled that both sides of climate change had to be presented to the schools that were showing “An Inconvenient Truth” to students was kind of like a straw for Rush and his Ditto Heads to run with–You”ll have to come up with something better than that–

  32. Cindy, see:

    The New Party in the UK is anything but conservative.

    From the NP website:

    In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Nine inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children.

    The inaccuracies are:

    -The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
    -The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
    -The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
    -The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
    -The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
    -The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
    -The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
    -The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
    -The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
    -Not all of the inaccuracies in the film were fully considered by the court as the judge requested a sample on which to consider the case. Professor Carter’s witness statement (reproduced below) lists 20 inaccuracies in the film.

    Additional Links
    Full transcript of the court case

    Professor Carter’s witness statement

    Lord Monckton’s witness statement

  33. You guys are too much-grow up and face the truth

  34. Cindy, I invite you to grow up and face the truth that the answer to many environmental issues lies with developing nuclear power like France has done. And there is a safer way to go as the UK’s New Party advocates: This will do far more than any Gore fib. 80% of French energy comes from nuclear.

  35. Cindy, what is the truth. What is the compelling evidence that man’s contribution to the CO2 naturally emitted into the atmosphere is the driving force in climate change? What proof is there, besides the computer models which are notoriously flawed. High minded pronouncements and moral threats are not proof.

  36. There is a new reactor to produce electric energy that is the size of a railroad car, can be built in a factory, meets all safety standards and will provide enough electricity for 30,000 homes. We have been safely powering submarines and ships with nuclear power for years. The only reason we are not going nuclear is politically correct BS from the left. There is some hope for a change to the railroad car type reactor.

  37. The stupidest thing of ALL! The same crowd shouting global warming is the crowd shouting no nuclear!

  38. Sweed7, I assume by your comment you would have no problem then with storing the depleted uranium fuel rods from those nuclear reactors in your basement?

  39. Now Chris, does every thing disposable end up in someones basement? By your figuring, we can’t flush, can’t eat or drink to prevent the waste being dumped into our basements. Instead of the usual complaining about every single thing how about one positive suggestion that you yourself can live with? It seems to me that enviros only know 3 words, no and sue ’em.
    As things are beginning to come to life again in the uranium fields, I do believe that more and more the realization that nuclear power may be necessary is dawning.

  40. The nuclear waste can be reduced and safely stored. The problem is political, not practical. Too much hysteria over nuclear waste.
    The French has an extremely successful nuclear power industry and it has been in place for nearly 30 years. It is mind boggling to think that the hide bound French can actually do something like that better than we can.
    There are more people killed every year as a result of the use of coal in energy production than have been killed in the production of nuclear power over its history. And this would include Chernobyl, which everyone, including the Soviets, knew was a garbage design.
    We will not reach be able to replace current energy consumption, even at a drastically reduced rate, with wind, solar, geothermal, biofuel energy prodcution. It is not possible unless there is an enormous technological breakthrough that somehow changes the laws of physics.
    And puhlease do not start yammering about giving up this thing or that to save energy. You could not give up enough to reduce demand to a level where those forms of energy would suffice.

  41. Wouldn’t it be nice to have those ineffective fans spinning in the sometimes wind all over the nation. They are already an eyesore and a disgrace besides killing all of those endangered birds. If anyone but a lefty tried to raise such cane with the skyline and environment they would be lynched. You can’t even put up a cell tower without enraging those folks. Storage of waste fuel is just another spotted owl hoot.

  42. Marion, with the half life of uranium being what it is, sooner or later, it will be in your back yard. But lets’ look at the bright side, you won’t have to turn on any lights to read by, so we will use less energy by default.

  43. Ahhh, Chris, I was born and grew up near the Gas Hills uranium fields of Wyoming. Neither my parents, grandparents, nor me, nor my offspring and on down to greats have any abnormalities. In fact our school nurse’s husband was the discoverer of the original mine. You know what the deer and the antelope and all of the other assorted wildlife in the area are jsut fine too.
    I’ve never seen radio active light out there.
    By the way the family goes back to the point where my great great granparents put their names on Independence Rock in 1864. Their offspring only lived into their 90s as much of my family has.

  44. Ahhh, Marion, you are talking about uranium ore, not the pure, concentrated stuff that the rods are made of. If you really don’t know the difference, then the wool has indeed been pulled over your eyes. By the way, there is no such thing as a “safe” level of radiation. If a gamma ray hits a chromosome, it IS damaged, every time. It is only due to the fact that we (life) possess so many that the effect is not always apparent. I know that our life giving sun exposes us to radiation also, and life has had billions of years to adapt to it. It still causes damage, and if we one day have long enough life spans, that safety net may also start to tear. It just doesn’t make much sense to up the dosage on purpose.
    And let’s not forget Chernobyl. We are far from perfect, and there has been nothing that humans have made that has not at one time or another shown to be flawed. And that is not factoring in the curves that Mother Nature and the geological instability of the earth can throw at us. When you play Russian roulette long enough, sooner or later, the gun goes off. The only problem with nuclear, is that the gun continues to go off for a long, long time.

  45. Dooms Day Dooms Day Just when were people independent of progress. Maybe the Indian. It would really be fun to have all 400 million of us trying to make a living shooting game animals. We would have to shoot millions of people and probably eat them. Marion and I have lived thru dozens of Sky is Falling episodes promoted to scare people for political reasons. It is a worn out lib tactic. The traditional media has lost it’s power to scare most of the population. When are you libs going to wake up to the fact that you need a new approach?

  46. Chris, don’t cross any streets or roads. If you cross often enough you might get hit by a horse and rider.

  47. sweed7 –

    Progress is obviously a subjective term. Most peoples of the world wouldn’t list insanity and oppression as a symptom of progress. Asking when anybody was independent of progress is like asking if anybody has ever been independent of what is and what exists in someone’s delusional mind. Certainly many people have existed independent of what you call ‘progress.’ Of course, 300 million of us can’t shoot big game animals “for a living.” That’s the point.

    I don’t really care whether you’re scared or not. And not much depends on whether you’re scared or not. Stay alive long enough, or look down upon your grandchildren or their grandchildren, and probably you or they will have the chance to throw themselves under a horse and rider.

  48. Marion–my father died of Leukemia in 1971 just a year or two after the last of 3 plutonium leaks from Rocky Flats N.W. of Denver–he owned a car lot and was outdoors every afternoon hosing off his inventory–when I mentioned the likely hood of his exposure causing his death–my brothers laughed.

    One of my daughters has been sick for years and Doctors diagnosed her with everything but what she had–thyroid cancer.
    She called me last year and asked if she had a lot of x-rays as a child and when I told her she had never had an x-ray at all she was shocked–and then she told me that the endocrinologist had told her that her form of cancer could be traced back to high radiation exposure BEFORE the age of 10. She was born in 1961 and we lived S.E. of Denver. Her Doctor said her form of cancer was seen in the children of the Chernobyl incident.

    So as far as I am concerned–nuclear is not an option for our energy issues.

    There is a simple passive solar window box that every homeowner could make with a tiny investment and guess what– it costs about $100.

    But then I’ve been trying to solve problems for years.

    You guys need to go back and read Steve Reddings post again.

  49. As is usually the case, when others have run out of intelligent rebuttals they get off the topic of discussion and move onto attacks of a personal nature. Please excuse me for not engaging you sweed7, but that is just not my style. Valid arguments could be made from both sides that the development of nuclear weapons was progression/regression. I choose to see it as the latter. Of course now I’ll get the “Would you rather be living in a Japanese colony?” argument, but the thought processes that lead us down the nuclear weapons road are the same ones that cause us to go to war in the first place. You know, like what is going on in hear. There are those that would rather just attack each other instead of trying to work out their differences. I guess that is the cost of being “civilized”.

  50. Cindy, I am very sorry for the loss of your father and now your daughter’s fight with cancer. It is tragic for cancer victims and draining for families who live each day praying that there will be a next one.

    Have you had a radon removal system installed in your home as I believe radon is prevalent in your area. Ionizing radiation, radon being one of those, have been directly linked to thyroid cancer. However, radon is normally associated with lung cancer.

  51. Craig,thanks for your thoughts on my father and daughter but the point I was trying to make is—nuclear power is not the answer because of the problems it presents to the world.

    No one else in my family has had cancer except one aunt–heart problems but not cancer —and since I know what caused these two incidents I will fight for energy solutions that do not pollute

    We did test for radon years ago in Colo.— which is a natural occurring gas–my concern is for the man made illnesses and thyroid cancer is one of them– It is interesting to note that the Univ. of Colo treats so many thyroid cancer patients that it seems to scream cluster–

    It all goes back to our poor stewardship of the natural world–we have to accept what we’ve done and start cleaning it up–

  52. Well said Craig.

  53. Chris, I happen to believe that the safe and sane development of nuclear power would address many environmental issues while actually being a positive agent for reducing cancers of many kinds.
    The International Atomic Energy Agency put out a publication ‘Sustainable Development & Nuclear Power’ addressing nuclear power issues. It is worth a read.

  54. If you believe that a $100 passive solar cell will suffice for anyone’s energy needs, no matter how meager, it is perfectly understandable that the complexities of a chaotic climate system are beyond your grasp.

    Nuclear power can and has been used quite safely. As I said earlier, the French have managed it quite well for a very long time. That we have not is a matter of political will, not science.

    Going back to the original premise of this article. Does it occur to no one that, perhaps, the alarmists are the ones in denial. Why else would they ignore science which presents a different point of view. More importantly why do they consistently fall to ad hominem attacks without ever addressing the science. Could it be that they have also fallen for their Pygmalian, their computer models which are so consistently at odds with observed climate, which have never successfully recreated historical climates? These same models can not explain why Antarctica has continued to cool and build ice, after all this is “global” warming we are discussing. The “convenient” answer that some place will cool and some will warm is, well, too convenient.

  55. Craig, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I simply do not feel there is currently anything remotely resembling “safe” nuclear power. I would not propose to be so all knowing as to think there would never be. And I feel that until such that it is, it should not be utilized. I am open to any solution that is both safe and eco-friendly. It is just my opinion that nuclear does not fit that description at this time. I have seen the site you included. I still hold the same opinion based on, what I feel is an overwhelming body of evidence that nuclear power, with the current technology, is unsafe.

  56. Chris, and I respect your opinion. I look to the French experience with nuclear power “NP.” The generate something like 80% of their power needs from this source. Their cancer rates do not bear out any correlation to their 80% NP generation. However, their cancer rates have gone up and the best guess it that those rates are connected to life style choices such as tobacco, alcohol, and such. It’s hard to point a finger to a particular cause. Consider a boulder as representing a human cell. One swing of a hammer may not break the cell. It may take several blows from different hammers or just repeated blows from a single hammer until the boulder ‘cell’ breaks. Separating which blow from the various hammer strikes is not particularly useful to identifying causation.

    The continuing growth of humanity and the collective desire for an upgraded lifestyle requires ever expanding energy requirements. Alternative energy sources such as wind and solar just will not meet these needs. The upgraded lifestyles usually equate to longer lives than were possible before. We will be faced with a choice to fulfill these expanding energy needs, either more carbon based or nuclear. Nothing else comes even close to addressing this demand. I believe as a society we will be far better off with NP then carbon emitting stacks. Another benefit of NP will be the power source for electrolysis to produce hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles. FCV’s are where we will finally see a real improvement in air quality leading to less illness like cancers. Just my opinion.

  57. Chris, I obviously agree with Craig but we will not change your opinion on nuclear. You are apparently willing to do research in detail. Maybe we can change your opinion of man made global warming. Will you please research the many works mentioned above which make the theory of man made global warming questionable at best. Even if man adds to global warming you are almost required to agree tha Al Gore’s movie is based entirely on false premises. Please be analytical not emotional while doing your research. If you won’t study the material then I give up.

  58. Craig and sweed7,
    I would first like to say that I do not buy into the Al Gore movie. I don’t accept everything Steve Running has stated. I do know, and from both of your comments, you do too, that carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases. And there is no denying that there are untold tons of both in the air as a direct result of human energy production. I know that when you decrease the amount of plant life in an ecosystem, (deforestation), you also reduce how much CO2 can be absorbed. My point is that these and other factors have to have an effect. It seems that we mainly disagree with how much of an effect. I will go out on a limb and say that you may even be inclined to agree that if we continue on the present course, sooner or later, we will have to pay the piper. We live on a small rock with finite resources being utilized at a rate that cannot be sustained. And in doing so we are altering the chemical composition of our rock from the state that allowed us to thrive as the life forms we are. This just doesn’t seem like a very smart thing to do.
    As far as nuclear energy goes, the problems are not just in the plants themselves, but in the byproducts. This stuff is deadly for tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of years. If we came up with a completely clean nuclear power source today, what we have already produced will have to be dealt with for generations. As I stated earlier, I am not against nuclear power. I am against it in its current form. If we are not able to meet the growing energy needs at this time without increasing greenhouse emissions or using the current nuclear model, then maybe we need to find ways to lessen our energy needs until a safe, (not just for this generation), alternative can be found.
    Because of nuclear weapons, we are already the only species on the planet that can be directly responsible for our own extinction. Our (the worlds) energy policies is just another way for us to accomplish this it will just take longer. Something needs to change. I would much rather be guilty of doing too much than too little to make the change. The former just means we inconvenienced ourselves more than was needed, the later…
    As a side note I would just like to say that it is a pleasure debating this topic with the both of you. Batter up.

  59. I can’t help but smile at the fact that we are discussing “global warming” as we are having this miserable cold weather.
    We ahve to face the fact that there simply have to be some compromises if we are going to have adequate. We are going to have to look at drilling rigs in oil fields, we are going to have to look at coal mines, wind mills on hill tops, etc. Oil and gas are where they are, the scenery does not matter, we cannot decide that drilling can occur in such and such a place with enviro blessing, it can and will only occur if there is oil/gas there.
    Ultimately we are going to be forced to use nuclear, unless some new and unknown source of energy shows up.

  60. Chris-We are closer to agreement than I thought. Deforestation: Trees store carbon while the are young and growing. Trees release carbon when they get old and start deteriorating. Fallen trees rot and release all of the carbon that they stored. Cutting mature trees into lumber delays the release of carbon for as long as the lumber remains viable. When forests burn they release all of the carbon at once in huge amounts. Old forests cause fallen limbs and huge amounts of fuel. Our forests are burning at unprecedented rates because we have quit logging and removing fuel, old trees, and creating roads and fire breaks. Clear cut areas are immediatly replanted with trees that are young and will actively stor carbon for the next 100 plus years. Competition from our forests will slow the canadian cutting of young forests and reduce our poor balance of import exports. Are you for logging mature forests? (NOT ANCIENT FORESTS) Are you for buying green credits so that Al Gore and rich people can continue to waste energy by paying money.

  61. Sweed7, I’m afraid we are still quite far apart on some issues. Dead trees stop absorbing CO2 and releasing O2. While they live, the use CO2. They are also not CO2 storage devices. That is where the O2 comes from. The fossil fuels we utilize today came from former organic matter, mostly plant matter. If it was all released as you say, we wouldn’t be here. Cutting mature trees kills mature trees. And let’s not forget that the transport and processing of said trees utilizes fossil fuels. All of the uncontrollable forest fires today are a direct result of human intervention and greed. Natural forests have wider spacing between trees than the ones brilliant man replants. As a result, when there is a fire in a natural forest, it goes from tree to ground to tree. Forests that were planted by man after cutting down the original forest have trees much closer together than nature intended. Thus when a fire occurs there, it goes tree to tree to tree (a fire storm). I fought more than my share of forest fires in my youth and natural forest fire are much easier to contain and often burn themselves out. Once again man’s intervention, thinking he is more knowledgeable than the environmental system that made it possible for him to exist in the first place, has contributed to the problem. As I stated earlier, the rate at which we are utilizing our natural resources cannot be sustained without eventual depletion. Although I doubt I will live to see the day it will happen, and I have no children of my own, (my girlfriend of 10 years has two that mean the world to me), the thought of raping the earth because; A. We can, and B. it makes my life easier does not wash with me. I am part American Indian, I spent my summers from the age of 5 until I was 17, living as my ancestors did, off the land and within the environment. I spent 3+ years living in the northwest territories of Canada and in Alaska at least 400 mile from the nearest human settlement where I didn’t hear a human voice or man-made device. The only thing that has kept me from going back is my girlfriend and her children. That was the most peaceful and alive I have ever been. Having lived both lifestyles, I feel I have earned the right to have an opinion on one over the other. Instant gratification is a deadly drug. One that unless a change is made, will cause the extinction of our species. It is easy to say “no, that’s a load of crap” when it does not affect you immediately. I choose to be less selfish and more concerned about the planet as a whole, not just my little piece of it and the rest of the world be damned. Money won’t buy you fresh water or clean air when there is none.

  62. Wow. This has been quite a thread here. First, I want to point out several fallacies in the comments made earlier by FrankR on 29Nov:

    How does one address a perceived issue without knowing its cause? If as many suspect, CO2 is not the driving force for the warming climate, then why must we focus on CO2?

    I don’t know where you get this information. Nearly every scientist studying global climate change agrees that CO2 is one of the prime drivers of this change.

    If the warming climate is primarily driven by natural cyclical factors, which is most likely, then simply spending time, effort and money on adapting to the changing climate is the most intelligent thing to do.

    Just because you claim that the current warming trend is due to natural cycles does not make it so. Certainly, previous instances of global climate change (prior to the industrial revolution) were due to natural cycles, but the present episode does not correlate with any such cycle. It does, however, strongly correlate with the growth of GHG concentrations in our atmosphere.

    No doubt someone will point out the causality issue regarding natural cycles and how in the past the warming preceded increased CO2 by several centuries. What they fail to also acknowledge is how after the CO2 starts to increase, the warming trend intensifies due to a positive feedback situation.

    In the natural carbon cycle, at the end of a cool period (“ice age”), natural cycles related to the Earth’s orbital parameters (known as Milankovitch cycles) or to changes in solar output, start to increase the temperature of the planet. This leads to a decrease in the ability of the oceans to sink CO2 (the warmer it is, the less the oceans can absorb). As a result, the excess CO2 is outgassed by the oceans and returns to the atmosphere. Over time this intensifies the effects of the natural cycles by trapping additional heat in the atmosphere via the GH effect.

    After several millenia, those natural cycles start to operate in the opposite direction, the planet starts to cool, more CO2 gets absorbed by the oceans, and a new ice age is the result. That is how the natural carbon cycle works.

    What has been happening over the past 150 years (since the start of the industrial revolution) is that we have been releasing additional CO2 into the atmosphere in order to power our civilization. This has increased at an even greater rate over the past few decades, when the warming has grown even faster. As a result, we’ve bypassed the whole natural causality issue and are already in the rapid warming phase of the carbon cycle. If anything, pointing out that in previous instances warming preceded CO2 increases works to defeat the arguments of the GW denialists, since we are not operating under the condition of a natural event.

    No doubt someone else will point out the “global cooling” fears of the 1970s. Perhaps they should learn something about global dimming and the role of aerosols in that discussion. Maybe the solution is that we should bring back CFCs :-).

    The climate on this planet has always changed. It has been far warmer than it currently is. More importantly, it has been far colder, for far longer periods of time than it is today. CO2 in the atmosphere has been far greater than it is today as well as far less.

    The current concentration of CO2 is closing in on 400 ppm, which is at least 33% higher than at any time in the past several hundred thousand years. There has been no evidence presented by anyone that it was ever higher than this in the more distant past. Try researching the works of NASA scientist James Hansen, one of the foremost authorities on global climate issues.

    I also want to once again point out that Marion has reverted to her failed arguments concerning the current wintertime weather in her corner of the world. If that were the case, why did we have temperatures above 50F here in Boise yesterday? It’s December, for crying out loud! And if you really don’t like the chill in the air, perhaps you should consider becoming a snow bird and spend your winters in Arizona or somewhere warmer?

    All that being said, as I have stated elsewhere, including on my own blog here at New West, I support an increase in commercial nuclear power as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels to power our society. I recognize that there are issues with this energy source, as there are with all of the options, but I view the threat of AGW to be far more serious than that posed by using more nuclear power.

    I also support a greater reliance on renewable sources like wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, etc. However, until these sources can demonstrate an ability to supply a significant fraction of our total energy needs, nuclear is a viable option in my opinion.

  63. 6degrees, you are of course entitled to your opinion, but I doubt your great grand children will share it. That is of course assuming they will still be around. Like I said earlier, my being wrong causes no harm, your being wrong is disastrous. I hope that I am one day proven wrong, I pray that you are not.

  64. One thing I have not seen addressed on any of blogs about “global warming” is the affect on the growing season. Has the growing season extended by one day, one week? Is this a bad thing? Certainly I would think that a longer growing season would be a part of an gw.
    When I read all of the articles about the glaciers melting and raising the sea level, none seem to address the increased evaporation from the heat.

  65. 6degrees – First of all I am not sure where you get the notion that every scientist in the world agrees that C02 is the driver of our current climate. There are approximately 2500 scientists who are part of the IPCC. That number does not come close to all of the scientists in the world. Furthermore, not all scientists who are part of the IPCC agree with the notion that CO2 is the primary driver of the climate. You would know this if you read the commentaries of the IPCC members who actually review the evidence. Finally, the reports issued by the IPCC are written, not by scientists, but by government bureaucrats. Indeed this is part of the official procedures for the group.
    Beyond the world of the IPCC there are also many other scientists who disagree with the CO2 as main driver thesis. John Christy of the University of Alabama (also a member of the IPCC) for one, Roy Spencer, whose recent studies on the impact of clouds and water vapor for another; Svensmark, William Grey, the list goes on. If you take the time to research you will also that there are many studies that take issue with the AGW premise. These are professional and peer reviewed study appearing in such journals as the Journal of Geophysical Letters, among others.
    Judging any climate trends on a 300-400 year time scale is absurd. That is a gnat’s blink of time in earth’s natural history. The positive feedbacks you mention exist only in the much vaunted climate models. The same climate models which are incapable of “hindcasting” and must be constantly “tweaked” in order to come into line with observed climate.
    Finally, you mention that CO2 has reached nearly 400ppm in our atmosphere, actually, it’s 385ppm. Do you realize that if the models are correct, we should have experienced a much greater warming than we have in the past twenty years? Do you also realize that CO2 has a logrhythmic effect on climate? That is each subsequent molecule of CO2 has less impact than the preceeding ones?
    You can listen to Hansen’s arrogant and highly political pronouncements or you can actually study this issue.