Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

COP21: a one-of-a-kind chance to teach climate change in a real-world context

REUTERS/Charles Platiau
From Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, more than 40,000 people representing more than 190 countries will gather in Paris to discuss the most important issue facing the world today: climate change.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, more than 40,000 people representing more than 190 countries – including 10 U.S. educators, a colleague and me – will gather in Paris to discuss the most important issue facing the world today: climate change. I do not say this lightly, and I absolutely recognize the gravity of the recent terror attacks in Paris. I say this based on the reality that climate change is exacerbating and even instigating conflicts around the world already, and if not addressed, will continue to have dire consequences that threaten peace and security. The upcoming COP21 climate conference is a pivotal opportunity to create a more secure future for today’s students and youth, by reaching a meaningful agreement to address climate change.

Kristen Poppleton

As director of education for Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, I am leading a delegation of 10 teachers, or Education Ambassadors, to Paris because I recognize the historic significance of COP21 as the world’s best chance to effectively limit the threat of climate change. What’s more, it is critically important to elevate the necessity of climate change education on the world stage, and that starts with elevating the voices of educators in today’s classrooms. If our nation and the international community are to succeed in effectively addressing climate change, we need a public that is climate-literate. Today’s young people must understand the basics of the Earth’s climate system, which is already changing around them. They must understand the economic, social and political ramifications of climate change. Finally, our youth must be equipped to communicate about climate change in a meaningful way, and to make informed and responsible decisions as future leaders in a changing climate.

Educators serve as critical messengers of climate literacy for hundreds of students each year, and this year’s pivotal COP21 climate negotiations provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to teach climate change in a real-world context. The 10 Education Ambassadors joining me in Paris come from across the country, including six from Minnesota, and bring with them the hopes and dreams of their students, schools and communities. Each of these teachers recognizes that nothing is more relevant than climate change for their students, because it connects to every subject and impacts them in direct ways.

Involving students in multiple ways

In the lead-up to COP21, these Education Ambassadors have been teaching about climate change in their classrooms, and asking their students to develop position statements on why the Paris climate talks are important to them. Teachers are bringing the negotiations alive for their students by facilitating mock debates, discussing the issue of equity at COP21, and recording video statements that highlight why their students care about climate change.

While in Paris, these teachers will literally act as ambassadors for their students, meeting with individuals from around the world to answer their students’ questions and webcasting back to their classrooms to share their experiences. Our delegation will also deliver the position statements from students to the U.S. delegation, highlighting the importance of climate change education in building a climate resilient future.

UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres recently said: “There will be an inordinate amount of work to be done on facing climate change on the part of those that today are still students … we have to stand up to that and realize that is so. Hence it’s about getting more and more students first fully educated on what this is. It is none other than the new reality.”

Children will live with climate change impacts

While attending the climate talks in Paris, I am choosing to stand up for my children and the future of all students, for they will inherit the outcomes of the decisions that are made at COP21 and they will live with the impacts of climate change throughout their lives. The COP21 negotiations in Paris should be the moment when the world looks back and says, “That’s when we turned the tide on climate change.”

These negotiations will be in the history books of the next generation, and educators should be witnessing, recording, and sharing the primary sources of that history with their students. By bringing educators to participate in the COP21 climate talks, we can help ensure that today’s youth will be the innovators of climate solutions and the enforcers of sound climate policy that the world needs them to be.

Kristen Poppleton is the director of education at Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy. She is leading a delegation of 10 Education Ambassadors to Paris for COP21 through Climate Generation’s Window into Paris program. Find out more here.

Want to add your voice?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (61)

  1. Submitted by Scot Wilcoxon on 11/25/2015 - 10:21 am.

    Political event, not educational nor scientific

    It sounds as if you’re not aware that the meeting is an unusually clear example that the context is actually political. This is a meeting of one of the organizations which has politicized climate science so much that we don’t know what the reality is. You won’t be at a scientific meeting. Obama doesn’t need to attend a meeting of scientists, but does need to attend this political event where governments are arguing about how much money some of the rich nations will give away to other nations.

  2. Submitted by Tom Karas on 11/26/2015 - 07:16 am.

    Thanks for a good example Mr WIlcoxen

    “””This is a meeting of one of the organizations which has politicized climate science so much that we don’t know what the reality is””””
    I don’t think that ‘science’ can be politicized as Mr. Wilcoxen suggests. Factual folks appreciate the scientific method, and when the scientific method is applied to climate evidence the conclusion is a scientific finding. And when the vast majority of the specialists in the field,,, well, you get the point, a validation is a good thing.
    But when the Scientific Method does not agree with your personal ideology you are left scrambling for an excuse to avoid the science, because actually admitting your error is not an option. Saying that the science is ‘politicized’ is a crok. But it provides for a good teachable moment for students these days to start to understand why they were left with the circumstances they will be living with. Thanks for the contribution to climate education Mr. WIlcoxen.

  3. Submitted by rolf westgard on 11/26/2015 - 10:09 pm.

    Paris climate boondoggle

    50,000 attendees, including our mayor, will burn millions of gallons of oil getting to and staying at this conference. Lots more CO2 will enter the atmosphere, and the end result will be a stalemate as at all the other gatherings in Kyoto, Copenhagen, New York, etc. The pledges from each country are labelled “intended”, so are not binding. Mayor Coleman and his delegation are simply wasting taxpayer money, but Paris is a lovely city to visit, assuming the terrorists stay away.
    It is interesting that these meetings are always in plush cities; never in sub Saharan Africa or other locations that are supposed to suffer the most in the unlikely event that there is any human caused global warming. Bon voyage, Mr. Mayor!

  4. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/26/2015 - 11:23 pm.

    Scientific Models and the Politician who Promote Them

    There are so many examples that it is hard to pick one.

    John Kerry in the Huffington Post:

    “The truth is that the threat we face is not an abstract concern for the future. It is already upon us and its effects are being felt worldwide, right now. Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013.”

    The truth is, that didn’t happen, not even close.

  5. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/27/2015 - 08:20 am.

    Some Perspective, Courtesy of the Minnesota DNR

    The Minnesota DNR website offers an interesting perspective, a longer view, in the section Natural History: Minnesota’s Geology.

    “In this quest for our past, truth proves to be stranger than fiction; Minnesota, icebox of the nation, once sweltered in tropical heat. Minnesota, breadbox to the world, was once the barren scene of titanic mountain-building and volcanic activity. This same country has been covered by occasional seas–slowly advancing, then ebbing. Much later came the ice sheets. To read such a history stretches the human imagination and instills a new perspective on life.”

    The Quaternary Period period, an ice age we are still in, featured more than sixty periods of glacial expansion with briefer intervals of warmer temperatures. The last glacial period ended only 10,000 years ago, making Minnesota a more inhabitable region for humans.

  6. Submitted by Tom Karas on 11/28/2015 - 12:45 pm.

    Pay attention students

    Commentators can extend the teachable moment as to why we are in this pickle and who slowed down the action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

    Then your homework is to research the reaction of the tobacco industry to the link between cancer and smoking and how that is being replayed by the fossil fuel industry. (hint- focus your Google search on Exxon funds climate denial)

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/28/2015 - 02:23 pm.

      Denying the Link Between Politics & “Science”

      Students take note how this politics – “science” denial occurs in the presence of these words from our President


      “By attending a climate-change conference in Paris next week, President Obama said Tuesday, he and other world leaders will show Islamic State terrorists that they cannot win.“What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be, when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children,” Mr. Obama said at a White House news conference with French President Francois Hollande”.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/30/2015 - 06:49 pm.

      Not so Fast

      Mr. Karas offers propaganda recently spread in these pages and elsewhere, perhaps a concerted effort of climate evangelists, at least those who cannot stay on point. Sure, let’s all get back 40 years to the tobacco debate, shall we? The allegation there is that Big Tobacco knew the evil in its products, but did not tell us. Most of us knew then of relatives and parents of friends having health issues after years of heavy smoking. A great many of us did not smoke, or did quit. We had primary data, if you will. How many smoke today at what price per pack?

      The difference here is that Big Climate claims to know the evil, but cannot convince us. Climate Change just isn’t that personal or timely for most people. They likely never studied geology or anthropology, or any science that provided historic bases for current opinion. And, there are many scientific uncertainties around us, with personal focus seemingly applied more to health and pharmaceuticals than temperatures and sea levels in 50-1000 years. Perhaps Climate Evangelists should stop preaching and do a better job of persuading.

      Too many practitioners have made Climate Change a new religion of sorts, and that’s counter-productive in societies that give religion less credence each decade. For many who question, it’s a matter of developing theory vs. proven fact. Climate scientists preaching from post-doctoral pulpits do not sway non-believers.

      So, by all means, do teach the science in a real world.

      • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/01/2015 - 12:47 pm.

        Fact vs Religion

        If you look around you’ll see that they are indeed using science rather than religion. Some people have recently started pulling churches into the discussion under the context that preserving the planet is a moral missive, but that’s an entirely different issue.

        The science around global warming is pretty cut and dried. They’re still working out some of the nuances and variables so they can fully understand the system and its effects, but the basic science is about as cut and dried as gravity and thermodynamics. If you think that’s not the case, by all means present your concerns here and I’ll do what I can to educate.

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/01/2015 - 04:19 pm.

          Really, cut and dried, just like gravity?

          Expanding antarctic ice caps and rising seas, as reported on MinnPost last month, are causing some rethinking.

          “Rather, their work is that rarest of events in climate research nowadays – a credible finding, by serious scientists without axes to grind, that calls for rethinking of a significant component in the complex mechanism of changes agreed to be occurring.”

          Both the flat Earth and the geocentric model were both widely accepted settled science, that deserved some rethinking.

          • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/02/2015 - 12:33 pm.


            Modern day nut-jobs aside (and yes, they are still out there), the flat earth theory was never a scientific consensus, but a religious one.

            Science works off of the best data available at any given moment. As new data comes in, then theories, models, and conclusions are adjusted. That’s how science works.

            Now if you think that global climate change is not real, then you need to come up with with studies that support that position. And considering that the preponderance of evidence supports massive climate change, then you need to have a greater body of evidence than they have in order to even have a shot at convincing people your position is correct.

            So far all I’ve seen is
            a) Some guy said the arctic ice cap may be gone by 2013.
            b) Arctic ice coverage is greater in 2013 than it was in 2012.
            c) A study shows that there’s more snowfall in Antarctica than previously thought.

            You have to admit that this is hardly a preponderance of evidence by any stretch of imagination. I’ve already shown you that Arctic ice coverage is trending down. And from the article above that you cited:

            “Despite a flurry of unfortunate headlines to the contrary, the researchers do not challenge either the widely accepted measurements of ongoing sea-level rise or any prevailing consensus as to global climate change and its consequences.”

            What the study means is that there’s more moisture in the air, which is a product of global warming. That moist air is, in turn, falling on Antarctica and increasing its snow pack. It does not mean that sea levels are not rising, but rather that the seas are in part rising from a source or effect that they haven’t accounted for yet.

            Do scientists know every single input and effect of climate change yet?


            But that doesn’t negate what they do know.

            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 02:13 pm.

              And the Goecentric Model?

              Astronomical predictions of Ptolemy’s geocentric model were used to make astrological & astronomical charts for 1500 years. Despite being wrong, the model was quite useful.

              Moisture (water) is the most abundant greenhouse gas.

              “but rather that the seas are in part rising from a source or effect that they haven’t accounted for yet.” How is this possible? According to you yesterday, this is cut and dried, as well understood as gravity. Time to rethink?

              “Out of the entire atmospheric makeup, only one to two percent is made up of greenhouse gases with the majority being nitrogen (about 78 percent) and oxygen (about 21 percent). Of that two percent, “planet-killing” carbon dioxide comprises only 3.62 percent while water vapor encompasses 95 percent. And of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, humans cause only 3.4 percent of annual CO2 emissions. What does this all boil down to? As shown by the accompanying graph, not very much.

              Indeed, anthropogenic effects are real but carbon is such a small portion of the natural cycle, and let’s not forget both the sun and carbon are needed for natural cycles that are good for the earth such as photosynthesis—the process by which plants turn sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. ”


            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/04/2015 - 08:51 am.

              Some Guy?

              Some guy (Wieslaw Maslowski) whose research was funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),

              I am certain that I was not alone smelling something fishy when the complete melt of the arctic ice cap was forecasted for 2013 and became the stuff of news stories and political speeches. I believe that many climatologists knew that it was a bogus projection. What could they do? A consensus is a consensus. Fear of being labeled a denier, of having research grants pulled, university tenure denied, research publication denied. not getting their ticket punched to the next global climate conference – all those things could cause a climate scientist to stand down. Go along to get along, support the agenda, tighten the ranks, claim a consensus. That is how it works;

              In retrospect, we can call the forecast a “throw away line”, blame it on “some guy”, and proceed business as usual.

        • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/02/2015 - 10:58 am.


          Literal translations miss the extension of allusion.

  7. Submitted by Tom Karas on 11/28/2015 - 06:19 pm.

    perfect example Mr Rose

    As clear a comment as can be expected by those twisting about in a strange attempt to gain credibility of any sort. Extra credit on this subject can be earned by a Google – NY Attorney General, Peabody Coal, Exxon Next?

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/28/2015 - 06:58 pm.

      Assignments for whom?

      Rather than making search engine assignments, you could refute something that has been said in this conversation.

      From the New York Times News & Politics (not science), we learn of a famous French meteorologist sent on forced holiday for the heresy of daring to doubt. Perhaps he will be allowed to speak at the conference next week; maybe not.


      “Philippe Verdier, famous for delivering nightly forecasts on the state-run news channel France 2, has authored a new book casting doubt on the research of world climatologists. Climat Investigation, which is set to be released in time for the December U.N. climate summit in Paris, claims that misleading climate data has “taken the world hostage.””

      Yet another fissure in a cracking quasi-consensus.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/29/2015 - 05:43 pm.

        Zut alors!

        M. Verdier, famous for delivering nightly forecasts, is neither a meteorologist nor climatologist. His book is noted for its factual errors and bizarre conclusions.

        “Cracking” is the correct verb, isn’t it?

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/29/2015 - 10:29 pm.

          Yes, the correct verb, thank you.

          At least according to this source, “Verdier is France Televisions chief of meteorology and the nation’s most famous weatherman, providing nightly forecasts to millions of viewers.”

          So your claims don’t remain unbased, to what errors and conclusions do your refer?

          What about the consensus of climate scientists to which John Kerry referred to, who forecast a complete loss of the Arctic ice cap by 2013. At last check, it was about 3 million square miles of thick ice.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/30/2015 - 09:54 am.

            Now Cracks a Noble Pot

            The New American, a very conservative website (“Planned Parenthood Shooter’s History Proves Background Checks Don’t Work” is one of today’s headlines), does not seem to know that the function of a TV weatherman is limited to reading forecasts. M. Verdier neither has nor claims any formal credentials as a meteorologist;.

            From what I understand from reviews of his book, he challenges the accuracy of climate models (fair game, but one that has been lost), says that the IPCC “blatantly erased” contrary data. He reportedly confuses weather and climate (a common mistake among ill-informed warming deniers) and then went on to say how good global warming would be for La Belle France. As the Telegraph (a conservative-leaning newspaper) put it:

            The 330-page book also controversially contains a chapter on the “positive results” of climate change in France, one of the countries predicted to be the least affected by rising temperatures. “It’s politically incorrect and taboo to vaunt the merits of climate change because there are some,” he writes, citing warmer weather attracting tourists, lower death rates and electricity bills in mild winters, and better wine and champagne vintages.

            It’s hard to take Secretary Kerry’s throwaway line as meaning much, what with the exact quote starting “Scientists project . . .” Nowhere does he say it was a consensus of climate scientists, or even a majority opinion. Yes, he should have sourced it. No, the intelligent conclusion is not that it blows the idea of global warming out of the water.

            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/30/2015 - 11:30 am.

              Not Hard to Find It

              In his Dec. 10, 2007 “Earth has a fever” speech, Al Gore referred to a prediction by U.S. climate scientist Wieslaw Maslowski that the Arctic’s summer ice could “completely disappear” by 2013 due to carbon emission driven global warming. He is one of those well known PhD climatologists with whom many claim a consensus. What actually happened in 2013 is that the summer ice minimum was greater than in 2012. Just a “throwaway line”.


              Excerpt from the CNN link above, “The U.N.’s leading panel on climate change has apologized for misleading data published in a 2007 report that warned Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.
              In a statement released Wednesday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said estimates relating to the rate of recession of the Himalayan glaciers in its Fourth Assessment Report were “poorly substantiated” adding that “well-established standards of evidence were not applied properly.”

              While the IPCC’s false claim can be cast aside as just another throwaway line, it lands on the same heap as all climate forecasts that fail to reach fruition; not that warm. We are being sold a false sense of urgency; act now – while supplies last! It sounds like a car dealer about to run low on his supply of hail damaged cars. Not to worry, there are still plenty of buyers waiting in line for the next dire prediction.

              I see that you misquoted Shakespeare.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/30/2015 - 12:31 pm.

                “Could” is an expression of the conditional.

                What has actually happened is that 20015 is on track to be the warmest year on record. As of the end of 2014, thirteen of the fourteen warmest years on record happened in the 21st century. Yes, a few dire forecasts have not come true (I notice that your “heap . . . that fail to reach fruition” seems to consist of items from 2010 and before). That does not mean that the earth is not warming. That also does not mean that the warming will not have dire effects.

                Since I never claimed to be quoting Shakespeare it wasn’t a misquote. If I recall correctly, it was a line from a long-ago cartoon in Punch magazine.

                • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/30/2015 - 01:42 pm.

                  I Never Claimed …

                  I never claimed that the Earth is not warming. The climate has never dwelt in a steady state; it is either warming or cooling, and we have been coming out of an ice age for many years.

                  I find remarkable the hubris behind the idea that we humans control the thermostat. It is tantamount to deciding we need longer days, so we are going to slow the Earth’s rotation.

                  Who gets to decide the planet’s proper mean temperature? There are both advantages and disadvantages to warmer and to cooler.

                • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/07/2015 - 09:07 pm.


                  Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
                  And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
                  Why does the drum come hither?

                • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/07/2015 - 09:10 pm.

                  Hamlet, Act V, Scene 2

                  Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
                  And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
                  Why does the drum come hither?

                  While a cartoon in Punch Magazine may have lampooned Horatio, it is nonetheless a Shakespeare reference.

              • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 11/30/2015 - 12:49 pm.

                Climate Change

                What if it’s a true sense of urgency and not a false one? Have any of their predictions come true or are they all false? What is the ratio of false predictions to true ones?

                • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/30/2015 - 02:04 pm.

                  The big list of failed climate predictions:


                  I am sure that some have come true. Here is one that has a reasonable chance, as it is a forecast for the year 2015 made in November 2015: “The global average surface temperature in 2015 is likely to be the warmest on record and to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)”


                  That is one degree warmer than the pre-industrial era, hardly alarming. This is predicted using adjusted data (another discussion entirely), not raw data. We are presently in a strong ongoing El Nino.

                  If you have examples of climate predictions that have come to pass on or ahead of time, by all means, bring them to the conversation.

                  • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/01/2015 - 12:22 pm.


                    Whether or not (pardon the pun) we’re in a strong El Nino is irrelevant to the discussion. As I’m sure you’ve heard, weather is not the same as climate.

                    One degree warmer indeed isn’t a big deal, if it’s taken in isolation. Climate is up and down over time and we have to expect some fluctuations in the systems.

                    What is of concern, however, are trends and rates. If that 1° C reversed itself and trended down, then we would be OK. But if it continues up and we hit 2°, then 3°, then 4°, then we’re in very real trouble. Warmer air holds more moisture and creates more violent storms, which tears up infrastructure.

                    More ice melts, which raises sea levels. Salt water ruins cropland and floods out low lying areas, many of which are populated by large cities. If you think the Syrian refugee crisis is a big deal with a few million people, just wait till several hundred million people from around the globe have to relocate after their cities become the new shoreline.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 08:59 am.

                      You may have oversimplified …

                      .. by a couple orders of magnitude.

                      It turns out that rising sea levels aren’t coming from Antarctica where polar ice is expanding; it is due to an unaccounted source.


                      “Rather, they suggest that some reattribution is in order by outfits including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose current conclusion is that Antarctic ice losses exceed gains. The NASA announcement, again, quotes Zally:

                      The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away. But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.”

                    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 12/02/2015 - 11:38 am.

                      There are no good figures on how many people…

                      … live within 1 meter, 2 meters, etc of sea level and with a nearby ocean shore. But let’s say it’s a whole lot of people.

                      If there are hundreds of millions of climate refugees, it will shake every political, economic, and social system to its foundations.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 12:35 pm.

                      Do the math

                      Antarctica is currently taking away by (freezing) 0.23 mm per year, and 0.27 mm sea rise is attributed to Antarctica, the difference is 0.04 mm. That is roughly half the diameter of a human hair. At that rate, it will take over 300 years to raise the sea half an inch.

                      Every “every political, economic, and social system” and their foundations will have to adjust. A dozen generations and a half inch from now, they will have fresher data and the problem will be better or worse this the extrapolation.

                    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 12/02/2015 - 01:35 pm.

                      Based on your speculations, your arithmetic is infallible.

                      But how accurate are your speculations?

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/03/2015 - 06:03 am.

                      Spot On

                      I quoted my self elsewhere in these comments from 2009 (MinnPost) calling into question the climatology forecast that predicted a completely melted arctic ice cap by summer of 2013. It seems I am more accurate than that computer model and the consensus science horse it rode in on.

            • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/30/2015 - 10:08 pm.

              Sorry, RB

              I think you’re off to a false start here. If one associates conservatism with caution, the noted publication might produce honest information, or not. You just smeared a publication I do not follow with an irrelevant citation, so I must take your comment as quite biased. I don’t typically see this in your writing.

              As for TV weathermen: Those I watch locally all have meteorology certifications behind their names. They do work up their forecasts rather than simply read script from NWS. That’s perhaps a reason they seem to differ in projections from station to station. They may be good or bad forecasters; but, they do forecast the weather.

              Passion Requires Patience. Some of the protagonists here appear to lack the latter. Not you, but others do.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/01/2015 - 09:15 am.

                False Start

                “If one associates conservatism with caution, the noted publication might produce honest information, or not.” The cited publication seems to be one of those that is not of the cautious conservative type, but more of the contrarian conservative type. There’s a strong bias on their part that I couldn’t help but noting.

                Weatherpeople in the US tend to have certification, but that does not seem to be a requirement in France. Your comment prompted me to look up what the certification means. The American Meteorological Society has educational requirements for their certificate, but the National Weather Association does not (We old timers will remember when Barry ZeVan made such a splash by being a real, live meteorologist).

                • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/01/2015 - 09:41 pm.


                  Oh, yes, we remember Barry ZeVan….and others who entertained us in costume and funny hats. Maybe that is a rational way to reveal the caprice of weather. The guys I now watch are properly certified, not simply certifiable.

  8. Submitted by Tom Karas on 11/29/2015 - 08:21 am.

    thank you

    I always enjoy it when I am afforded an opportunity to remember my father. One of his favorite sayings was “never get into a wrestling match with a pig in a mud hole, pretty soon you realize the pig likes it too much to stop.”

    Here is a direct link this time that involves a slew of supporting links, and the comments provide for a good discussion of how cherry picking data works. End of discussion for me.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/30/2015 - 08:30 am.

      Thanks for that Link

      For those that have no yet followed the link provided by Mr. Karas, just skip to the final paragraph, where you will find this compelling conclusion: “I don’t know whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry. We don’t have enough information to make that conclusion.”

      If your father was not George Bernard Shaw, he should have credited him. I’m sure he would be impressed with your ad hominen attacks, aimed not at the message, yet again, but at the messenger.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/30/2015 - 10:36 am.

        Never Mind the Text!

        Don’t read the article, folks, Just skip to the last paragraph. Oh, and when you do, don’t read the last two sentences, which read “Perhaps it’s all smoke and no fire. But there’s an awful lot of smoke.” Don’t let that detract from the “compelling conclusion.”

        I’m not sure a metaphor qualifies as an attack ad hominem.

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/30/2015 - 12:07 pm.

          The last two senctences …

          … are more of the same; all squishy words, like “perhaps”, and no condemnation. Heavy stuff.

          If you want to read about tobacco, read the whole thing.

          The Metaphors are ones that refer to the messenger as a crackpot and a pig. An evasive game of passing through the moderator’s gate by not making direct insults. A not-so-clever games into which you will not draw me.

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 12/01/2015 - 01:01 am.


            If it looks like a duck… Sorry couldn’t resist. Generally speaking, and I cannot speak for Mr. Karas, I find the best response when confronted by absurdity is to call a spade a spade and let others draw what conclusions they will. The best part of all is that we will all one day see who is correct, well at least some of us, and fear not, I have no compunction against a hearty “I told you so” hollow victory though it might be. At the minimum, it won’t be my name that my children’s children curse as they struggle through their harsh reality.

            • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/01/2015 - 07:53 am.


              If it looks like a large duck, it might be goose.

            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/01/2015 - 11:13 am.

              Absurdity is the IPCC forecasting that the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035. Absurdity is that the arctic polar ice cap will have completely melted by 2013. Absurdity is the thought that we humans will force the climate into a steady state, because we like how it is right now. The latter is also the apogee of human arrogance.

              We have been having this argument for long enough (at least since 2009 on MinnPost) that we can already see who is right in may cases. In the summer of 2013 was there no arctic ice or was there 3 million square miles? The 2013 summer ice extent was greater than in 2012. What gives you or Mr. Karas any position from which to call names?

  9. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/01/2015 - 08:00 am.

    Some Correct Words from 2009


    In light of recent inconvenient truths, perhaps the raw data and the computer models could be made public, so this extrapolation can be examined under the light of day.”

    My public doubt on MinnPost regarding the arctic ice cap goodbye dates back to 2009, when I called into question the adjusted data, the computer models, and the extrapolations driving the computer models. Who was right? Was it the computer models or was it me?

  10. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/01/2015 - 12:14 pm.

    Ice Pack

    Reports indicate that the sea ice in the arctic is receding.

    One year, 2013, may indeed have had more ice coverage than the previous year as it’s natural for readings to fluctuate. That’s why it’s best to look at trends rather than cherry pick a couple of data points from one year to the next.

    Another item to consider: the coverage of sea ice may have been greater, but that doesn’t mean there’s more ice. That’s because new sea ice isn’t as think as old sea ice, which has accumulated over many years. Check out the graphs from the link above and you’ll see that the sea ice has been trending down for the past 35 years. Some years are indeed up, but overall the trend is down at a rate of 6.9% per year.

    Did the ice completely melt in 2013? No. But unless the trend is reversed we’ll get to that point.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/01/2015 - 12:29 pm.

      Yes, as we know …

      The arctic ice cap is receding, but still 3 million square miles strong; not gone as climatologist and their computer models erroneously forecasted. And, the antarctic ice cap is expanding, as reported right here on MinnPost in November.

  11. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/01/2015 - 12:41 pm.

    Habitat 1.0

    It’s been postulated on this forum that humans are too puny to affect the earth in any meaningful way, that we have too little impact to control the Earth’s thermostat. Let me dispel that myth.

    First of all, it’s a poor choice of words to say that we control the thermostat because we don’t. It’s not some dial that we can move up and down at will. We do, however, affect the thermostat. Our actions have a very direct affect on the atmosphere.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The science on that is undisputed. People produce a huge amount of C02. Also a known fact. C02 is trending up as is the average temperature of the earth.

    No far nothing controversial there.

    What the deniers complain about is whether or not the C02 we’re putting into the atmosphere is what’s driving global warming. That is also not in dispute among climate scientists as they’ve looked at the data. If you look at C02 trends, you’ll see we’ve been steadily increasing since the dawn of the industrial revolution and the trend mirrors the rise in temperature. Now if someone thinks that something else is causing the rise, then they need to present a study, have it peer reviewed, and publish the results. To date I have not seen anyone do so.

    Can Mankind adversely affect the planet? Absolutely. It happens all the time. Look at the ozone layer over the poles, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and the fate of the Aral Sea, which was once one of the biggest fresh water lakes on the planet.

    Here in the Midwest, humidity levels in the summer are 3% higher than historical levels because we grow so much corn. Not a huge swing, that is until you consider all the extra power spent on air conditioning to pull the moisture out of the air.

    Another item that’s rarely brought up in these discussions: the rate of change. People like to point out that the climate is always fluctuating (true), but they never mention that natural fluctuations take place over thousands to millions of years. What we’re looking at here is a couple of decades to a hundred years. That’s quite a huge omission! If we had a few thousand years to move our people, cities, airports, and farms, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to make gradual adjustments. But we’re not looking at that much time. You’re not going to pick up New York City and migrate it twenty miles inland on Tuesday of next week.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/01/2015 - 04:07 pm.

      Rarely Brought Up?

      Much of this discussion is about the rate of change.

      Gone When? Himalayan Glaciers: 2035, Polar Ice Caps: 2013. We are being sold a false sense of urgency, larded with promise of dire consequences. The rate of change crowd believed the computer models that forecasted the complete melt of the arctic ice caps by 2013. Climatology computer models failed to predict the expansion of the antarctic ice cap.

      “First of all, it’s a poor choice of words to say that we control the thermostat because we don’t.” As previously stated, I agree with you completely. It is the apogee of human arrogance.

      Yes, “CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The science on that is undisputed” I agree completely. If it went away, we would all freeze to death in short order.

      The rise in humidity can be credited to the corn grown to produce ethanol. Ethanol has a terrible thirst; best case (no irrigation) is 5 gallons of water for every gallon of ethanol.

      “Now, researchers at the University of Minnesota have concluded that the amount of water used in ethanol production varies hugely from state to state, ranging from 5 to 2,138 liters of water per liter of ethanol, depending on regional irrigation needs.”

      ““This is one more nail in the coffin for ethanol,” says David Pimentel of Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY, whose own studies have shown that ethanol requires more energy to produce than it releases when burned, and that the fertilizer used to grow corn for ethanol has contributed significantly to dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico (areas of the ocean with low oxygen content due to increases in chemicals in the water).

  12. Submitted by Jim Million on 12/01/2015 - 01:02 pm.

    More Grist with Graphs

    Ok, I don’t know Christopher Booker, but suspect many would cast him as a conservative skeptic. So what? His current article in The Telegraph contains some very clear graphics, and, needing little interpretation, I happen to prefer charts and graphs to editorial prose.

    So, please take a look and respond if you wish. If you must trash the man or his thesis simply from philosophical stasis, please don’t bother to comment. Let’s leave that to those who have not fully decided their views, or have not yet studied these exhibits. At least Booker provides an excellent recap of points from Climate Change skeptics. As for my personal view, it simply is that this issue is not yet settled science.

    If you can honestly refute the data without denigrating the man, do please offer your documented view…from a legitimate source, if possible. Anyway, this comes from the most widely read paper in Britain, I believe.

    “10-reasons why we shouldn’t worry about man-made global warming” by Christopher Booker.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/01/2015 - 01:53 pm.

      Trashing the man?

      I don’t know if looking at his qualifications (BA in history) or his other expressed opinions on scientific matters (passive inhalation of tobacco smoke is not a health risk; asbestos is not a health risk) constitutes “trashing the man.” I do think it is relevant to the question of whether he knows what he is talking about, or whether he is just a contrarian for the sake of being contrary. I express no opinion on his politics.

      Just looking at his first and second points starts me down the path of thinking he is just being contrary for the thrill of it. While it may be true that “[t]he temperature rise of 0.5 degrees C between 1975 and 1998, hailed as “the hottest year in history” was no greater than that recorded between 1910 and 1940, before ‘global warming’” was thought of,” thirteen of the fourteen hottest years on record have happened in the 21st century. His point about satellite measurements is not well taken:the accuracy of satellite measurements of surface temperature is questionable (one study says they may be underestimating temperatures by up to 30%–

      The back-and-forth on the “97% of all experts” figure continues unabated. How many experts on climate science–real, credentialed climatologists–hold contrary views? Have they published in a peer reviewed journal?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/01/2015 - 02:09 pm.

      Regarding the “Pause in Warming”

      This just came to my attention:

      “In this article, we show that even putting aside possible artifacts in the temperature record, there is no substantive evidence for a “pause” or “hiatus” in warming. We suggest that the use of those terms is therefore inaccurate.”

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/01/2015 - 09:35 pm.

        Nature vs. Nurture

        Thanks for the citation from “Nature.” I did anticipate something from The Guardian in response to most anything from The Telegraph. That’s also not to say that each is either valid or not. Just a recap of information often touted/denigrated in the discussion. I believe in reading to learn other people’s views, not simply to reinforce my own. In short, I do not need to have personal opinions on everything, or most blog contributions, for that matter. I do apply informed skepticism to many matters. That’s likely my formal debate training and critical analysis schooling–definitely nourished while coming of age in the 1960s.

        But, to focus on the author’s degree is not that relevant in this summary. The study of history certainly employs careful analysis of event chain relationships influenced by externals. That seems to be the crux of Climate Change study.

        I also believe it appropriate to question the process and product of many government-funded causes, whether they be for the Climate Industry or Military/Industrial Complex.

        For me, the Climate Change discussion begs these questions: Is it cyclic? Is it progressive? Is it cyclically progressive? And, of course, can Man do anything decisive about it?


        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/02/2015 - 09:32 am.

          Degrees of Warming

          “But, to focus on the author’s degree is not that relevant in this summary.” With all due respect, it kind of is. I will take the conclusions of a credentialed climate scientist before that of even an intelligent, educated layperson. While I firmly believe that an educated layperson should be capable of reading and understanding scientific information, I am especially skeptical when they draw conclusions that differ from a scientific consensus (Who are you going to believe on the safety of pediatric vaccines–a physician, or Jenny McCarthy?). When those differences are recurring, over a variety of topics, my skepticism gets ramped up.

          “I also believe it appropriate to question the process and product of many government-funded causes, whether they be for the Climate Industry or Military/Industrial Complex.” Likewise, equal or greater skepticism should be applied to the processes and products of causes funded by the private sector.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 08:09 am.

        Hiatus or not, computer model forecasted cataclysmic events are failing to show up on time or show up at all.

        What we do know about climate change, formally known as global warming, is warmer or colder, drier or wetter, whether ice is forming or melting, it is due to climate change. And, climate change is due to humans. The climate change that happened before humans, well, that was such a long time ago …

  13. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/01/2015 - 09:40 pm.

    Interesting conversation:

    The philosophical question?

    If the scientists are wrong, but we drive towards a lower carbon environment, the consequences?
    If the scientists are right, but we don’t drive towards a lower carbon environment?
    Which risk do we choose to pass to our children?

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 07:36 am.

      Follow the Money

      $100 billion per year is not enough.

      A key question is the amount of financing that developed country parties may be willing to provide to developing country parties and the terms of such financing. The figure of USD 100 billion per annum from 2020 was proposed at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. While some commentators argue that this figure may be insufficient to cap the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, it is promoted as essential to help bridge the gaps in countries’ abilities to tackle climate change.

      Pass to your children the debt required to finance this wealth transfer scheme.

  14. Submitted by Matt Haas on 12/02/2015 - 10:30 am.


    Is an illusory concept, it can literally be forgiven, on a whim, at any time. Food, water, shelter, not so much. Tell me, how sustaining would all that money you hope to save be if you were forced to eat it?

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 04:52 pm.

      An Illusory concept, indeed

      And all the real things that a trillion dollars can accomplish is set aside in lieu of “correcting” the climate?

      Rather than investing in infrastructure and agriculture to adapt to an ever changing climate, just fix the climate! You go with that; count me out.

  15. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 11:02 am.

    Consensus Fracking

    This just in, the results of the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll (released Monday).

    Read more:

    “Asked whether the government should be doing more, less or the same, 47 percent said the government should do more, though far less than the 61 percent and the 70 percent who said the same in polls in 2008 and 2007, respectively.”

    Read more:

    When you overplay your hand and your forecasts fail, reality can prove downright unkind.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/02/2015 - 12:42 pm.

      Unkind, Indeed

      From a Yale University survey, released October, 2015:

      “Two in three (67%) Americans think global warming is happening. By contrast, only about one in six Americans (16%) thinks global warming is not happening.
      About half of Americans (53%) think that global warming, if it is happening, is mostly human caused. One in three (33%) say they believe it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment.”

      Of course, exact numbers often differ:

      “The latest results from the University of Texas, Austin Energy Poll show that more than three out of every four Americans think “climate change is occurring” — 76 percent of respondents. Even the majority of Republicans now acknowledge global warming, with 59 percent saying the climate is changing.

      . . .

      Among the drivers of climate change implicated by believers, deforestation, coal, oil and natural gas beat out natural forces (not man made), indicating that the majority of respondents acknowledge climate change as at least partially anthropogenic.”

      “Two-thirds of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but a slim majority of Republicans remain opposed, the poll found. Sixty-three percent of Americans — including a bare majority of Republicans — said they would support domestic policy limiting carbon emissions from power plants.”

      That reality sure is mean, isn’t it?

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2015 - 01:57 pm.

        No disagreement that climate is changing, as it always has thoughout the planet’s history. The amount of human contribution is the source of much speculation and many computer models. Here are a couple of facts to consider:

        “Out of the entire atmospheric makeup, only one to two percent is made up of greenhouse gases with the majority being nitrogen (about 78 percent) and oxygen (about 21 percent). Of that two percent, “planet-killing” carbon dioxide comprises only 3.62 percent while water vapor encompasses 95 percent. And of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, humans cause only 3.4 percent of annual CO2 emissions. What does this all boil down to? As shown by the accompanying graph, not very much.

        Indeed, anthropogenic effects are real but carbon is such a small portion of the natural cycle, and let’s not forget both the sun and carbon are needed for natural cycles that are good for the earth such as photosynthesis—the process by which plants turn sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. ”

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/02/2015 - 02:12 pm.

          Another Fact to Consider

          Water is a good thing, but drowning will kill you.

          The issue is not whether greenhouse gases are bad. They are not–as your source points out, they are part of the natural cycle. There is a limit, however, to how much can be safely generated and absorbed by the ecosystem. The capacity for accepting greenhouse gases is not infinite, and, even though CO2 is a small percentage of the total, increases beyond that small percentage are what will prove devastating.

Leave a Reply