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Tilting at Windmills

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February 5, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

EGGS OVER EASY....From the National Journal, this pretty much speaks for itself. It's not just that Republican members of Congress aren't convinced that global warming is a man-made problem -- gotta keep those campaign donations from Exxon rolling in, after all -- it's that the number who believe this has actually gone down over the past year.

Down! What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming? Hell, even George Bush now claims to believe that greenhouse gases are at fault. Truly stupefying.

Kevin Drum 8:07 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (102)

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Maybe the ranks of self-identified GOPers have thinned to the point that only the most doctrinaire will admit to a pollster that they are Republicans.

Posted by: Will on February 5, 2007 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

It's winter. Cold republicans don't believe in global warming.

Posted by: M. Peachbush on February 5, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

That one's easy. 50% of the Republicans who believe in global warming lost their seats.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot on February 5, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the '06 elections dramatically thinned the ranks of northeastern moderate Republicans?

Posted by: Thrax on February 5, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Easy answer, Kevin. It's much colder outside right now than in April. Duh. Looks like "global warming" was part of a cyclical process after all. Ah, the mysteries of life...

In all seriousness, there appears to be a renewed push by global warming deniers just about everywhere in recent days. The conservative blogs, for example, are in full rant mode as we speak. Today I learned that, because NYC has been cold for a couple of weeks, global warming must be a hoax (thanks redstate.com!). The talking point du jour seems to be claiming that those of us who accept scientific consensus are "religious zealots." Ugh.

Posted by: keptsimple on February 5, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe a poll of only 31 members isn't particularly accurate. The Republicans took a pasting in November, but I'm pretty sure there's more than 31 left.

Posted by: Andrew Olmsted on February 5, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Dems should learn from the tobacco industry crap. There are plenty of paid shills who do nothing but lie all day in order to get a pay check. Want to "show" tobacco doesn't cause cancer? Want to "show" that global warming isn't settled? You can have a couple dozen hacks making those claims, no problem.

What the dems should do now that they have control of the comittees is to bring in the AEI, Heritage, and all the various groups paid to obfuscate the matter and require them to testify UNDER OATH to congress about their research.

This will either require them to repudiate their work or to serve nice toasty jail terms for perjury.

They cannot be allowed to continue contributing endless noise to the discussions. The signal is just not strong enough to compete. Not when it comes to inattentive, and often disinterested, listeners.

Posted by: Tlaloc on February 5, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we had an election, and so the sample population changed in two big ways:

1) A bunch of Republicans - mostly the more moderate
members of the caucus - lost to Dems.

2) A bunch of old members - many of whom probably
started out in the less polarized pre-1984 era -
retired, to be replaced by candidates picked by
the Bush/Rove machine.

So these results don't necessarily support the
idea that individual Republicans are getting
crazier. But they *do* support the idea that
the Republican party as a whole is heading
further into wingnut deny-the-obvious territory.

Posted by: Richard Cownie on February 5, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Check out the National Journal link. A majority of Republicans don't even think that we should raise fuel efficiency standards for cars (presumably because such standards would drag down the soaring US auto indust... oh... wait... never mind.)

Posted by: keptsimple on February 5, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

This is reassuring to see. It's good to see that a few of our elected officials will not be browbeaten by professors chasing higher grant monies, or hippies threatening protests and "egging", or by socialistic Euro governments. Some of our elected officials represent the interests of the CITIZENS, and refuse to let what is actually is a disgused attempt to socialize the American economy.

BTW, it's about 20 degrees outside right now. Oh, but I suppose global warming caused that, too?

Posted by: egbert on February 5, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the mighty college professor. Will his iron grip on the reins of our legislators ever be weakened?

Posted by: keptsimple on February 5, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oy,

If this were a truly random sample, then...

A statistical sample of 31 yields a sampling uncertainty of sqrt(31), about 6, which is in relative terms (1/sqrt(31))=18%. BIG error bars.

NOW, since this may include Congresspeople who were the same for the two surveys (April '06 and now), there may be crosscorrelation - as there are only a little over 200-odd Repub Congress critters. In that case the sample is not truly random, and we would expect some reduction in the variation of the answers (i.e. if you got answers from the same individuals in the two surveys, they are more likely to not have changed their point of view).

But even so, I suspect the observed fluctuation is almost entirely due to the tiny sample size.

Posted by: Greg in FL on February 5, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert,
Sounds like you didn't get the memo last week. The AEI was looking for you. They wanted to pay you $10,000 for you to say that global warming doesn't exist.

Posted by: This Machine Kills Fascists on February 5, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

And another thing:

How does any climatologist who accepts global warming stand to be awarded grant money for stating that the global warming debate is over? Aren't such scientists in effect saying that no more studies verifying the existence of global warming need to be performed?

Posted by: keptsimple on February 5, 2007 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe people refuse to be cowed by Al Gore.

He lost the election, remember? So he should sit down and SHUT UP!

Posted by: egbert on February 5, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

I work with this guy who says global warming may cause the sea water to rise 1 or 2 feet over the next hundred years, and people in Moscow aren't experiencing as cold a winter, so where some people may have to deal with a little flooding, others will have a nice long spring. See? Everything balances out!

It's incredible that a person can think the effects of global warming end at a warm Moscow. Or that sea water levels rise a foot or two. How much more water is that? If the earth is 2/3's water now, and we add 2 more feet to it, what percentage will that be? How will that affect currents, eddies, seawinds, clouds and everything?

A person, in all seriousness, can say a little flooding here is offset by a warming there. I told him he has no sense of proportion, that a warm Moscow hardly offsets flooding around the equator. People of Moscow are used to being cold, whereas nobody gets used to living underwater. Yet still, he persisted. Global warming just means acclimatizing to spring-like conditions in traditionally cold parts of the world.

Posted by: A different matt on February 5, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

While it's certainly true that the right-wing "it's cold in New York, so global warming is fake!" meme is ridiculous, it's no more ridiculous than the "it's warm in New York, so two centuries of global warming must have happened overnight!" meme that was all over left-wing blogs only three weeks ago.

Posted by: cure on February 5, 2007 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

These Senators are the enemies of humankind.

This isn't "stupefying."

It is treason against humanity.

Have you spit on a republican senator lately?

If one comes with lugee reach... LET FLY!

You owe it to your planet and your country.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on February 5, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

cure -

I didn't see that on any liberal blog.

Posted by: keptsimple on February 5, 2007 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

One expects a bit more of you than bad data analysis. Granted the GOP are behind the iceberg on this. But consider the sample sets. Are these the same people in each question who changed their minds? Or just a different set of respondents? Non respondents in this set were 24 GOP and 17 Dems. Doubt that even if you wanted, you could surmise anything about the group in question, let alone the entire party membership from this.

Posted by: martin on February 5, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

M. Peachbush nails it. - "It's winter."

Ask again in August, watch the numbers flip.

People don't understand the difference between "it's hot/cold for me today" and "the globe is getting warmer."

Posted by: Essjay on February 5, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if the question was asked them same way both times, but the "beyond a reasonable doubt" part may have something to do with it.

I'm about as liberal a Democrat as they come, but even I don't think that it has been proven that global warming has been caused by man beyond a reasonable doubt...by a preponderence of the evidence, yes....but not beyond a reasonable doubt.

Posted by: mfw13 on February 5, 2007 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming? Hell, even George Bush now claims to believe that greenhouse gases are at fault.

Well, that pretty much answers your own question, doesn't it?

Posted by: dj moonbat on February 5, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Let's pretend that the 2006 election didn't change a single seat, and let's further group the Only part of the cause into the No camp, to give 13-87 vs. 23-77. Since there are only 31 votes, the change from 23% to 13% is only 3 votes, ie. 7 voted yes in April 2006 as opposed to 4 now. This gives a lower bound on the number of GOP Congressmen of 7. Now consider the total number of GOP members of Congress -- for a sample of size 31, it would only require 3 fewer of those 7 previous members to not have been included in this sample to get these new poll numbers without any single member ever changing their opinion, which from a general polling standpoint is easy to see occurring.

I think it's safe to say that this poll doesn't say anything about general trends, and it's a mischaracterization for either side to claim that it does.

Posted by: msmackle on February 5, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

The more apparent the reality of global warming becomes, the more important denying it is - if you don't deny it, you risk losing your ability to do nothing about it. A few years ago, you could find a middle path "It's probably true, but we need to study the issue before we take drastic action." That old pabulum is working less well, so they have to go whole hog or risk Exxon withdrawing funds.

A future warming of the globe scares them not as much as a present cooling of fundraising.

Posted by: Fides on February 5, 2007 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, even the recent IPCC report said that it was only 90% certain that anthropogenic causes preponderate.

There is no way in which something which has a 90% probability of being true has been "proven beyond reasonable doubt".

Those Republican Congressmen were correct in their answer and you sir are an idiot.

Posted by: am on February 5, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

One more follow-up on my previous post: Let's say that those 31 votes are entirely take from the Senate, and that the poll was actually for every GOP Senator and not just a sample of 31. Since it would only take a loss of 3 Yes votes to give these percentages, then the loss of Chafee and Sarbanes would give 2 out of the 3 necessary, and I'm not sure where DeWine or Talent stood on that issue (my own ignorance here, it's possibly obvious in either case), but again, this shows that those poll results are consistent with almost nobody's personal opinion changing on this topic.

Posted by: msmackle on February 5, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

To Cure,

Given the direction the data is going there has to be a day, logically, when someone says, on a warm day in December, "it's due to global warming," and he'll be right. Yes, the very next day might be cold, but a consequence of global warming is more warm days, therefore when we get too many of them in a December and that pattern becomes too regular, it can be attributed to global warming. Will people in the future, with the benefit of hindsight, say that about this year?

We probably won't recognize it at the time, ie. when that guy is right, because we'll have to wait for more data and various kinds of averaging and other statistical analysis. But, one thing is for sure-- sometime in the near future someone will say about his warm day, "it's because of global warming," *and* he'll be right.

Posted by: dennisS on February 5, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

I have been in a debate all week with a bunch of Republicans who believe beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no global warming. It is all a plot by scientists to increase their funding. They just have to have all those big grants to keep up their Volvo payments.

It is amazing just how closed their minds are, simply amazing. I wonder if they are all doing the same drugs as Rush.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 5, 2007 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, it's about 20 degrees outside right now. Oh, but I suppose global warming caused that, too?

You apparently don't seem to understand either that a) changes in global weather patterns associated with global warming can and will cause some locations to experience colder than normal temperatures or b) that day-to-day weather is largely a chaotic phenomena and that drawing conclusions about long-term weather patterns ("climate") on the basis of short time periods is a fools errrand.

Posted by: obscure on February 5, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, it's about 20 degrees outside right now. Oh, but I suppose global warming caused that, too?

And it's dark out right now, too. I suppose your so-called "sun" still exists?

Posted by: Otto Man on February 5, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming?

Al Gore.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 5, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

There is no way in which something which has a 90% probability of being true has been "proven beyond reasonable doubt".

To be 90% sure of something in science is more than enough to implement that knowledge in policy decisions. Many of the people who take up science as a sword or shield fail to understand the uncertainty inherent to science. While some may preach this as a weakness, the sensible person realizes it as a strength as it challenges one to constantly refine ideas and stoke the fires of curiosity. There will always be naysayers and critics of all ideas. In this case, the 10% uncertainty, represents the small doubt remaining. However, to me dictating policy based on an off-chance just doesn't seem very prudent.

(Plus, 10% is probably too generous. We can't forget the Exxon scientists, or the fact that responsible scientists would rather underestimate than overestimate probabilities)

Posted by: Nate on February 5, 2007 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
--William Shakespeare

Posted by: Quotation Man on February 5, 2007 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

"It is all a plot by scientists to increase their funding."

This is the most depressing part of the "debate" for me. I mean, how do you get past that argument? They're basically telling you: No matter what evidence you show me, you're lying.

Posted by: Suna on February 5, 2007 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, even the recent IPCC report said that it was only 90% certain that anthropogenic causes preponderate. There is no way in which something which has a 90% probability of being true has been "proven beyond reasonable doubt".

The IPCC terms their assessment of >90% as "very likely".

The definition of the standard "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" is willfully independent of any numerical percentage of certainty, but researchers have determined it to be around 75% in practice.

In any case, the bottom line is, is 90% certainty enough to take action? If your doctor gives you 90% of dying in the next year of prostate cancer if nothing is done, are you going to mock him for not providing you with evidence that is BARD?

Posted by: Disputo on February 5, 2007 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you missed your chance with that post title. Not quite certain what "eggs over easy" was meant to refer to, but the instant I saw it and the post context, I thought: "Naw. Scrambled."

Posted by: Baxil on February 5, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is not difficult to fathom. Conservatives do not understand the difference between Science and a popularity contest.

Posted by: bryrock on February 5, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin are you really this stupid? How far up your ass do you have your head stuck?

Lets see, record cold, no hurricanes after predictions of a record number and at record strength, still no explanation of why roughly thirty years ago all the rave was of a new ice age, ice thickening in certain parts of the antiartic and artic, record snow falls in the midwest....etc. etc.

Your a schmuck Kevin, a real dip.

Posted by: Terry on February 5, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly. Like Davis said above, for some people Al Gore endorsing global warming is enough for them to be even more against it.

For those people facts can be debated away.

Posted by: Tripp on February 5, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote:
What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming?

Um, Exxon/Mobil made record profits?

Posted by: josef on February 5, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevim: What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming?

For one thing, several knowledgable scientists have opinined against human-induced global warming, such as William Gray:

Q. You don’t believe global warming is causing climate change?

Gray: No. If it is, it is causing such a small part that it is negligible. I’m not disputing that there has been global warming. There was a lot of global warming in the 1930s and ’40s, and then there was a slight global cooling from the middle ’40s to the early ’70s. And there has been warming since the middle ’70s, especially in the last 10 years. But this is natural, due to ocean circulation changes and other factors. It is not human induced.

I don't agree with Dr. Gray. I think it likely that human activity does contribute to global warming. However, my degree of belief would not meet the standard of "beyand a reasonable doubt."

Note that the models predicting global warming have not been truly validated. Given the nature of long-term weather predictions, validation is probably impossible. Still, IMHO the lack of validation allows some degree of reasonable doubt.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 5, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hey mods, how about deleting the vile comments from Thomas/Charlie now Terry that are beginning to pollute these threads?

Posted by: Disputo on February 5, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

it's no more ridiculous than the "it's warm in New York, so two centuries of global warming must have happened overnight!" meme that was all over left-wing blogs only three weeks ago.

Right now it's somewhat colder than usual, but you would normally expect that across a winter season you would get a few days that were this cold. This winter is colder than last year but not the year before.

You would never, ever expect 60-70 degrees in the first week of January.

A little colder than usual does not equal the warmest temperatures ever recorded in modern times by a large margin, which is what is was a few weeks ago. In order for it to be colder than average as much as it were warmer than average in the first week of January it would have to be like negative 20 fahrenheit.

It's sad and ridiculous that global warming deniers find so emphatically persuasive the same handful of absurd arguments. They find it more plausible that virtually all of the world's climate scientists believe in anthropogenic global warming because all of the grantmaking organizations worldwide have chosen to fund only research that supports a particular conclusion that they have chosen randomly and arbitrarily. The process of science is so broken that 99.9% of climate scientists have basically picked a conclusion out of a hat. They find this kind of absurd scenario totally persuasive.

And the wingnuts have no problem arguing positions that work against each other so long as they all show those awful liberals are wrong somehow. They will argue in the same breath that: 1) non-anthropogenic global warming has happened before so that implies the current warming trend must not be human caused, and 2) there is no current warming trend happening right now. They will say this in the same breath and still be totally satisfied. Extra Jonah Goldberg points for saying 3) and global warming will be a good thing, so those horrible liberals are still wrong about something. And they'll probably also soon say that there's nothing we can do to stop global warming, so you awful liberals are wrong about that, and they'll still find that completely satisfying.

This is the psychology we are dealing with.

Posted by: guy larsdale on February 5, 2007 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, my guess is that people who are actually capable of weighing evidence and making an informed opinion have been abandoning the Republican Party by droves in recent months. So their departure has shifted the average opinions in the know-nothing direction.

My explanation actually is testable. Suppose we could find a poll were conducted a couple of years ago that determined the percentage of Republicans who accept evolution. According to my theory, a similar poll conducted today would show a rise in the number of creationists.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on February 5, 2007 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

mfw13: I'm about as liberal a Democrat as they come, but even I don't think that it has been proven that global warming has been caused by man beyond a reasonable doubt...by a preponderence of the evidence, yes....but not beyond a reasonable doubt.

Actually since global warming was predicted long before any temperature rise was detected, based on the known properties of carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, etc. the measured increase in average global temperature simply confirms the predictions. Rather than requiring more proof before it can be deemed "beyond a reasonable doubt" some serious explanations would be called for if the temperature hadn't gone up in concert with the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Dave

Posted by: Dave Howard on February 5, 2007 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

guy larsdale, you're overstating a bit when you assert that "virtually all" of the world's climate scientists believe in anthropogenic global warming. Actually, most of them do. but a significant number do not.

Majorities of scientists have sometimes been wrong. E.g., there was a time when virtually all of the world's scientists believed that the sun rotated around the earth. There was a time when virtually all of the world's scientists disbelieved the theory of continental drift.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 5, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

I don't agree with Dr. Gray. I think it likely that human activity does contribute to global warming. However, my degree of belief would not meet the standard of "beyand a reasonable doubt."
Posted by: ex-liberal

Of COURSE you disagree ... now that bush has made it acceptable to say so. Once you are able to unwrap your lips from around his member, then perhaps your perception of reality might carry some weight.

Until then, let the scientifically literate make the relevant decisions, and kindly shut the fuck up.

Posted by: Nads on February 5, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Nads: Until then, let the scientifically literate make the relevant decisions, and kindly shut the fuck up.

Huh? I'm the one who is following the scientifically literate. A majority believe in human-caused global warming, but other experts dispute it. That dispute is why I harbor some amount of reasonable doubt.

What's your excuse for totally ignoring the scientific experts who disagree with your POV?

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 5, 2007 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

Majorities of scientists have sometimes been wrong. E.g., there was a time when virtually all of the world's scientists believed that the sun rotated around the earth. There was a time when virtually all of the world's scientists disbelieved the theory of continental drift.
Posted by: ex-liberal

please don't pretend that your position has anything to do with scientific reality or any understanding of the literature or data presented by actual scientists.

you're a scientifically illiterate hack regurgitating what has been told to him. you have repeatedly demonstrated yourself incapable of analysis. you couldn't understand this shit if you tried.

Posted by: Nads on February 5, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Nads: you're a scientifically illiterate hack regurgitating what has been told to him

Exactly right. I am regurgitating what has been told by knowledgable scientists, some of whom disagree with the idea of human-caused global warming.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 6, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Bush thinks green house gases are responsible for his failure in Iraq, not global warming.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on February 6, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Gray is a fossil. I think what bothers him about computer models is mainly that they are done on... you know, computers.

Dave

Posted by: Dave Howard on February 6, 2007 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

The Election!!!

Even though there are less of them they are more conservative than ever before, all the moderates lost. Which is good for Dems because it has convinced the conservatives that are left that the ones who lost, lost because they were not pure enough. Watch these guys slip firther and further away from the mainstream and (hopefully barring any self-inflicted f** up such as nominating another John Kerry for PRes) entrenched a long term Dem majority

Posted by: Lee Carney on February 6, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Exactly right. I am regurgitating what has been told by knowledgable scientists, some of whom disagree with the idea of human-caused global warming."

Make sure you change that "some" to "a vast minority" to make sure everyone knows you're arguing from the fringe...Just in case they didn't already.

Posted by: Nate on February 6, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly right. I am regurgitating what has been told by knowledgable scientists, some of whom disagree with the idea of human-caused global warming.
Posted by: ex-liberal

... your scientific illiteracy is the equivalent of believing a nazi scientist simply because he happens to be called a "scientist," despite the glaringly relevant fact that his position is a minority.

You have decided to believe (presumably by quoting) the vast majority position, which you are attempting to justify vis a vis your illiteracy.

It make no sense that, being an illiterate, you would not attach yourself to the much more widely accepted consensus position, expounded upon in Orsekes 2004 Science essay
The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change
, which failed to find any data opposing the consensus position.

Hacks exist ... but even fairly respectable guys like Gray, whom you quote above, are universally disbelieved with respect to their position on global warming. ... not that it matters, because you're not capable of understanding the discussion, anyways.

Posted by: Nads on February 6, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

the above should read: "You have decided to believe (presumably by quoting) the vast MINORITY position, which you are attempting to justify vis a vis your illiteracy."

Posted by: Nads on February 6, 2007 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Dave: Bill Gray is a fossil.

I grant you that he's old. (BTW don't liberals oppose age discrimination?) A less old scientist who agrees with Gray is Richard Siegmund Lindzen (born February 8, 1940), an atmospheric physicist and a professor of meteorology at MIT renowned for his research in dynamic meteorology - especially atmospheric waves. (according to wikipedia)

wikipedia gives a list of scientists opposing global warming consensus athttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_global_warming_consensus

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 6, 2007 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming?

They got cold feet.

Posted by: has407 on February 6, 2007 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Actual scientists rarely get their data from wikipedia, ex-lib.

That is reserved for jackasses who think they can somehow become overnight experts on a subject in which they are, in reality, really fucking ignorant.

Posted by: Nads on February 6, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

What's your excuse for totally ignoring the scientific experts who disagree with your POV?
Posted by: ex-liberal on February 5, 2007 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

Peer review?
Consensus?
The preponderance of evidence?

I'm not ignoring the ones who disagree with the findings re; anthropogenic climate change. I'm fully aware they exist. I'm also fully aware they are wrong.
And no, their numbers are not significant. Nor are their methods, or opinions. All of the alternate "theories" to explain climate change, including that of solar output, have been debunked. There's no evidence supporting those. The evidence supporting anthropogenic climate change is much stronger.

And as for Kevin's question:
Global Warming deniers aren't necessarily Republicans. But rather, they are Corporatists. I think the phenomenon here is that more and more republicans realize that today's Republican Party is the Corporatist party, and it is against their collective best interests to continue to support the Corporatist faction.
And the Theoconservative faction - 5 years ago, *knew* that Jesus was coming in 2007, so global warming was irrelevant (and therefore, it's perfectly okay to be dishonest about one's feelings on the subject, because it was "for Jesus"). - of course, when Bush turned out not to be anything significant, neither the Second Coming, nor the Antichrist, the belief among Evangelicals that we are in the end-times, is in sharp decline. In fact, I suspect those numbers will fall off even more dramatically within the next 12 months. And we won't have to worry about the armchair eschatologists and other assorted freaks and whack jobs until the year 3000. By which time, we will either have dealt with Global Warming as a Humanist endeavor, or we'll be extinct.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on February 6, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

p.s. in spite of their pronounced methane and other sundry gas production.

Posted by: has407 on February 6, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

wikipedia gives a list of scientists opposing global warming consensus athttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_global_warming_consensus
Posted by: ex-liberal

21? The best you can do is Google up some 21 odd nutjobs who hold the minority position in the field?

Fuck me, you fucking douche ... I just provided a link to an analysis of 928 articles encompassing a field with several thousand members. ... and you give me a

why don't you next try convinving me that HIV doesn't cause AIDS, or that the shape of my fucking skull determines my personality, you worthless hack.

Posted by: Nads on February 6, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Nads: Actual scientists rarely get their data from wikipedia, ex-lib.

Yes, but, we non-scientists find out what scientists believe by reading encyclopedias.

Incidentally the debate isn't over whether human activity causes global warming. We both agree that it probably does. The question is whether the conclusion is certain beyond a reasonable doubt.

My impression is that scientists deal with doubt all the time and are good at contemplating various possibilities. Your dogmatism along with vilification of those who disagree with you is not typical of good science.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 6, 2007 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Some of our elected officials represent the interests of the CITIZENS..."

Guess it's always warm up your own ASS, ain't it, Exxbert?

Meanwhile, back on beleaguered planet earth, I guess we're seeing signs that the remaining reps of the Republic Party are far more doctrinaire and (as others have suggested) in the pocket of big oil than are rank-and-file voters—who are waking up to the lies right about now.

Posted by: Kenji on February 6, 2007 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

It's not possible to persuade deniers of human caused global warming out of their denial by arguing on the merits. The simple fact is that they don't really care whether global warming is real nor whether it is caused by human activities. They just don't want any remediation to be undertaken which might affect their pocketbooks. Therefore they will obfuscate the issue in order to maintain an air of uncertainty in the public mind. Congressmen who deny the facts do so in order to escape the charge that they won't address an urgent problem. If the problem is considered not to exist, they can't be blamed. This subterfuge is just part and parcel of the "get government off our backs" ploy of those whose greed blinds them to the consequences for future generations.

Sadly, the only way the predictors of catastrophic global climate change will ever be proven right is if we are unable to stop it. And then, of course it is too late. Kinda like being right about what would happen if we invaded Iraq. Kinda like being right about the dangers of electing a know-nothing like George W. Bush in the first place. I take no pleasure in having been right. I wish I had been wrong. I would like to be wrong about global warming. A man falling off a cliff would like to be wrong about his belief in gravity.

I've studied this issue for a long time. But don't think there are any lucrative grants in my future. I just happen to care about the planet, the original source of our sustenance and livelihoods.

Dave

Posted by: Dave Howard on February 6, 2007 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's probably because people more likely to believe in global warming were from more moderate districts where the voters justifiably hate the Republican party at this point. So of the Republicans left in Congress after the previous election, a greater percentage of them are dangerous wingnuts.

Posted by: Jon Cogburn on February 6, 2007 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

My impression is that scientists deal with doubt all the time and are good at contemplating various possibilities. Your dogmatism along with vilification of those who disagree with you is not typical of good science.
Posted by: ex-liberal

I'm not accustomed to having illiterates tell me how to interpret data. Interesting experience.

Dogmatism in the pursuit of revealing your ignorance and illiteracy is no vice.

Posted by: Nads on February 6, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Dave, as long as someone somewhere is getting a grant for something, these know-nothings will latch onto that and say, "See, I told you it was bullshit."

Funny how in almost every case, from Dan Rather to Joe Wilson, they ignore the issues and discredit the messenger by claiming that he is partisan, tainted, and self-serving.

Gee, I wonder where they got THAT particular view of human nature.

Posted by: Kenji on February 6, 2007 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the follow-on question and answer was more interesting.

Basic Republiscam: "I don't believe in global warming but I'm all for giving more money to my pals in alternative fuels and I'll fund the subsidized nuclear energy up the wazzoo.

"Huh? What's wrong with that? What did I say?"

Posted by: notthere on February 6, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Richard Cownie and Jon Cogburn have it. A large part of the Democrats' 2006 wins came from blue-state and swing-state districts flipping from moderate Republicans to liberal Democrats. Of course the remaining Republicans are going to be true believers.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin on February 6, 2007 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - *Maybe people refuse to be cowed by Al Gore. He lost the election, remember?*

Well, no actually. My memory tells me that Al Gore won the election, but the presidency was stolen by the mendacious nutcase currently in the White House.

Posted by: Mike on February 6, 2007 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

No lie people, but:

The Earth: millions of years old.

Human study of climate change: 50 years.

Please use your brains. Aren't progressives supposed to be smart?

Global warming very well might be happening--I'm not arguing against it--and I do believe we should be good custodians of our planet.

However

The earth is millions of years old.

Human study of climate change has been going on for 50 years.

THINK. Please. Study it yourself.

There are other opinions--and I'm not talking about those funded by Big Oil and Big Coal.

But it is an awful big carbon-based bandwagon out there and it seems lately as if everyone wants to be the first one aboard.

Cool.

Except, what if it's wrong?

Posted by: MJM on February 6, 2007 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK

MJM,

billions of years, not millions.

detailed and reliable records keeping of tempratures, etc. go back at roughly 150 years, sometimes longer.

through different methods we have a resonable accute understanding of the weather of previous ages as well. going back thousands of years. sometimes even millions.

Trough all that we can pretty much conclude what the effects of climate change would mean for us humans.

50 years of study is a long time. especially if it's not just 50 years of data.


Tell me, what if it's wrong? then we will have sacrifed an enourmous amount of money and growth needlessly, true.

But what if it's right? then the earth will survive, but millions of humans will die, our world's economy will be close to destroyed. The total cost will multitudes of what prevention would have cost.

Think of it as taking out fire insurence, how much are you willing to gamble that your house won't burn down?

What if the likely hood of your house suddenly becomes 90%? Whould you still gamble and not take out insurence?

It's not just the value of your house we are talking about, It's the value of millions of lifes.

If it's wrong we lose some money, But: What if all those scientist turn out to be right? How much are you willing to gamble on a mere 10% chance that we aren't to blame?

Posted by: Ernst on February 6, 2007 at 5:41 AM | PERMALINK

Ex liberal.

Majorities of scientists have sometimes been wrong. E.g., there was a time when virtually all of the world's scientists believed that the sun rotated around the earth. There was a time when virtually all of the world's scientists disbelieved the theory of continental drift.
Posted by: ex-liberal

Entirely true. until a more accurate theory was discovered all scientist tend to hold a "false" up (A.k.a believe in) as the best one.

If a "better" (more accurate) theory comes along, the scientist adopt (if sometimes slowly) that new theory.

If you look at the history of the theory of Global Climate Change, which is still being partially developed, more and more scientist come over and adopt that theory.

In giving that example of scientists being wrong before, You gave an example of scientist ultimately abandoning a wrong theory in lie of a better one. Just like scientist are abandoning the theory that Global Climate Change does not exist or is not man made, in favour of the theory that humans do effect Global Climate Change.

You ultimately discredit the scientist you held up as deniers of the new theory in favour for the old inaccurate theory in your parable. Instead of casting doubt on the scientist who hold the newer consensus theory.

Your point of scientist being wrong before weakens your case, as that is exactly what explains away the adherents of the old theory, not the adopters of the new.

Posted by: Ernst on February 6, 2007 at 6:00 AM | PERMALINK

Egbert - "People refuse to be cowed by Al Gore. He lost the election remember"

You're right. Gore lost the election massively in fact. We should never forget that in 2002, millions of patriotic Americans recognised Al Gore was a threat to this nation's freedom and cast their votes that obliterated the menace that he was. Our democratic constitution ensured that the will of the overwhelming majority brought to power a truly great man who would keep America a bastion of truth and justice. Al Gore and his mincing liberal acolytes would have sapped the fortress of the City on the Hill.

Posted by: Egfroth on February 6, 2007 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

In 1896 Svante Arrhenius published his work based on the known infrared trapping propensity of carbon dioxide, estimating that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would result in an average global temperature rise of about 5 C degrees. 1896. That was 113 years ago, MJM. (And by the way the earth is some four and a half Billion years old.)

"THINK. Please. Study it yourself." writes MJM.

Please. Many of us have been. That's how we have arrived at the consensus that the upward trend in mean global temperature is genuine, not a spurious artefact. The convergence of both theoretical deduction and empirical data provides an overwhelmingly convincing case-- convincing, that is to those who have bothered to study this stuff.

It's you who should be hitting the books, MJM

Dave

Posted by: Dave Howard on February 6, 2007 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Richard Crownie nailed it.

Posted by: crack on February 6, 2007 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming?

Pigs flew? The dish ran away with the spoon?

Posted by: anandine on February 6, 2007 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Easy answer... more of the Republican-
American Members of Congress who believed in climate change lost last November. Inhofe stays. Chafee out. Do that enough times and there you go.

Posted by: CJ on February 6, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Let's make it simple for those of us who are mentally challenged. I'm standing at a river. At the other side is a years supply of free gasoline and a million dollars. All I have to do is walk through the river to the other side and collect the booty. Yet at the same time there's 998 experts who have spent their whole lives studying the effects that toxic chemicals have on humans. And these men and women are telling me that if I walk through this river that the pollution being spewed into the river from the coal fired electric generating plant upstream has a 90% chance of giving me cancer and killing me. And I might add a rather unpleasant illness will lead up to this death. Yet amongst this large group of experts there are 2 guys screaming that the rest of those people are full of crap and that there's no real proof that any of what all those peolple claim will come to pass.What's a poor boy to do?

Posted by: Gandalf on February 6, 2007 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, it's about 20 degrees outside right now. Oh, but I suppose global warming caused that, too? Posted by: egbert on February 5, 2007 at 8:35 PM

Eggie, I am putting your words into a time capsule for yours and other folks children to read in a few years. Of course you may not have any yet (or ever) but someone up there in time will read your prophetic pontifications and will have a better understanding of why nothing was done back in 2007 when there still was a chance.

Your party's Head Up The Ass Syndrome (HUAS) is getting dangerous, sir.

Posted by: Zit on February 6, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Hey mods, how about deleting the vile comments from Thomas/Charlie now Terry that are beginning to pollute these threads? Posted by: Disputo on February 5, 2007 at 11:34 PM

Na, let em talk. Freedom of speech. But refute and rebutt. Every. Single. Word. of their hate speech.

Hold their feet to the fire at all times until their toes blister. Ask for facts, links, proof of how they came to know more than the rest of us.
And have a smidge of pity too. Some folks feel that listening to the O'Reilly O'pinion, reading the Weekly Standard, and being a Limbaugh Loyalist elevates them to a higher holy order than the standard issue human being.

Posted by: Limbaugh Loyalist, NOT on February 6, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps you're new here. Thomas/Charlie/Terry is a well known troll in this forum who has had his IP banned because of his alternating troll filth and denial of service attacks. His sole purpose is to destroy debate.

Posted by: Disputo on February 6, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

It has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that global warming is happening and that it is caused by human activities, principally by CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

That is far beyond "reasonable doubt". It is an established scientific fact.

Anyone who denies that global warming is happening and is caused by human activities is either ignorant or a liar.

Many people are ignorant about this because they have been lied to, repeatedly and systematically, by the paid agents of the fossil fuel corporations.

The Republicans who responded to this poll by agreeing that it has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt are both ignorant and liars.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 6, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Down! What could possibly have happened over the past nine months to make them less likely to believe in human-induced global warming? Hell, even George Bush now claims to believe that greenhouse gases are at fault. Truly stupefying.

Uh, cold winters?

Posted by: TW Andrews on February 6, 2007 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Because any opinion is a reflection of their ideology. They're wounded and angry so their opinions are falling more in line with the standard wingnut refrain.

Just as there is only politics, not policy in the whitehouse, there is only ideology, not information for regular people.

Posted by: The Tim on February 6, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Do you want to know when the issue is being taken seriously by anyone in the United States? You will know it when the first new nuclear power station opens for operation. Until that moment, all the talk about doing something is just a lot of hot air and misdirection.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 6, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

all the talk about doing something is just a lot of hot air and misdirection

I for one will defer to Yancey's ruggedly individualist expertise on hot air and misdirection.

Posted by: Gregory on February 6, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, I'll agree that Yancey is serious about nuclear power when he agrees to a nuclear waste dump in his (figurative) backyard.

Posted by: Gregory on February 6, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK
Do you want to know when the issue is being taken seriously by anyone in the United States? You will know it when the first new nuclear power station opens for operation.

Nuclear power stations aren't built because even with special treatment and subsidies, there isn't enough a liability shield to make them worthwhile to build to the corporations that would build them—every form of renewable energy production system that actually gets built is safer and more economically viable.

What stops nuclear plants from being built is, according to the nuclear industry itself, that the government won't step in and relieve them of all liability for resulting disasters.

The only way nuclear power becomes economically viable is if it becomes the biggest of big government boondoggles in history, and its kind of amusing that you, Yancey, given your position on everything else, are so infatuated with it.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 6, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

For purposes of this debate, what is holding back nuclear power is irrelevant. I just know, without nuclear power, carbon emissions will continue to increase. Now, we can discuss what to do to move it forward, and I support, in principle, using carbon taxes to level the playing field. I would even agree with you on the reasons that nuclear power has not moved forward in the US for the last 30 years, but if the US is serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions, then these hurdles will have be removed by people and their elected representatives (for example, carbon taxes will have to be raised enough to make the true total costs of nuclear competitive). If they choose not to do any of these things, then, as I wrote, we really won't do anything about carbon dioxide.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 6, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe there's less people willing to identify as Republicans?

Posted by: Crissa on February 6, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Yaney wrote: I just know, without nuclear power, carbon emissions will continue to increase

And with (more) nuclear power, the volume of nuclear waste will continue to increase. The body politic is well within its rights to judge this cost not worth the benefit (similarly to, say, a program of banning all fossil fuels).

And since I don't see you volunteering to host a nuclear waste dump in your (figurative, but no less ruggedly individualistic!) backyard, I presume you agree.

Posted by: Gregory on February 6, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know, you could just read the articl and find out that it was the same 55 Republicans that were queried nine months ago.

Perhaps they should've added in the 14 non-responses to the %%, but.. This is 31 answers that were now and then.

Of course, if that's not true, their article is misleading. Of course, as someone pointed out before, it really means at least one person changed their mind...

Though why anyone would, we don't know.

Posted by: Crissa on February 6, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

The body politic may very well decide nuclear is not worth it, but it is very clear that this also means global warming is an acceptable alternative.

Energy consumption trends are not going to reverse themselves and decline in the future. None of the renewables have the capacity or the generation profile to substitute for fossil fuels.

As for your typical, insubstantial counterargument about whether I want a nuclear dump in my backyard, I could counter by asking if your home has electrical power, or if you own a gasoline powered automobile, or if you have flown anywhere in the past.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 6, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

The body politic may very well decide nuclear is not worth it, but it is very clear that this also means global warming is an acceptable alternative.

No, it just very clearly means that the body politic is smart enough to see through your "my proposal is the only possible solution to this problem!" fallacy.

If you have a problem with it, I suggest you contact Karl Rove and Dubya -- you know, Yancey, your guys -- with beating that particularl horse so dead that the american public can't help but notice the stench.

As for your typical, insubstantial counterargument about whether I want a nuclear dump in my backyard, I could counter by asking if your home has electrical power, or if you own a gasoline powered automobile, or if you have flown anywhere in the past.

Why not go for it, Yancey? Straw man arguments are the meat and drink of intellectually dishonest -- but ruggedly individualistic! -- looney libertarians like you.

But counter or no, you still don't answer the question, however "insubstantial" you may deem it, so once again, I still have no reason not to presume you agree. And as I said before, short of that declaration, there's no reason at all to take you seriously.

Well, even less than usual.

Posted by: Gregory on February 6, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward wrote: "Do you want to know when the issue is being taken seriously by anyone in the United States? You will know it when the first new nuclear power station opens for operation."

That is an ignorant pronouncement.

Nuclear power is the most expensive, most dangerous, and least effective way to reduce GHG emissions from electricity generation -- which is of course only one source of GHG emissions. It does absolutely nothing to address the enormous GHG emissions from the transportation sector.

According to a report entitled "Tackling Climate Change in the US: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030", released last week by the American Solar Energy Society, energy efficiency measures alone can prevent US carbon emissions from increasing over the next 23 years, and implementation of solar, wind, biomass, biofuels and geothermal technologies can then reduce GHG emissions further, with a total reduction in US GHG emissions of 60 to 80 percent by 2030, which is in line with what most scientists believe is necessary to limit atmospheric GHG concentrations enough to prevent the worst global warming outcomes. And this program requires NO additional nuclear power plants.

You really don't know what you are talking about. You are just regurgitating standard right-wing dogma about nuclear power.

When I see an energy company proposing to build a nuclear power plant that will replace an existing coal power plant, I will consider acknowledging some degree of "seriousness" on the part of nuclear proponents. To my knowledge, that has never been proposed anywhere in the world.

The agenda of building thousands of nuclear power plants all over the world to provide additional electrical generating capacity -- the need for which can be entirely eliminated by conservation and clean renewables -- has everything to do with greed (for taxpayers' dollars) and nothing to do with addressing anthropogenic global warming.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 6, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward wrote: "Do you want to know when the issue is being taken seriously by anyone in the United States? You will know it when the first new nuclear power station opens for operation."

Yancey, I linked above to a report from the American Solar Energy Society that contends -- in detail -- that efficiency and clean renewables alone, without nuclear power, can reduce US GHG emissions -- from all sectors, not just electricity generation -- by 60 to 80 percent within 23 years.

What comparable document can you point to from the nuclear industry that spells out in detail how many nuclear power plants would have to be built within the next 23 years, at what cost, to achieve a comparable reduction in US GHG emissions? Or even a proportionally comparable reduction given that nuclear only addresses GHG emissions from electrical generation?

Got anything?

If not, then what exactly is the basis of your dogmatic pronouncement that any approach to GHG reduction that doesn't embrace new nuclear power plant construction cannot be "serious"?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 6, 2007 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK
For purposes of this debate, what is holding back nuclear power is irrelevant.

No, its not, since it is not the only other possible source of large-scale generating capacity besides fossil fuels. The things that affect its relative merits with respect to other alternative are, in fact, central to "this debate".

I just know, without nuclear power, carbon emissions will continue to increase.

A claim you offer no support for or reason to believe; it seems, from your past participation in similar debates, to be a quasi-religious dogma for you. Which is fine, as a basis for trying to convince people who agree with it, a priori, of what policy actions to take, but hardly a basis for convincing anyone else.

Now, we can discuss what to do to move it forward, and I support, in principle, using carbon taxes to level the playing field.

Carbon taxes might help carbon emissions, but they won't really move nuclear forward, since the problem with nuclear isn't so much in the expected costs but the exposure to catastrophic liability risk.

I would even agree with you on the reasons that nuclear power has not moved forward in the US for the last 30 years, but if the US is serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions, then these hurdles will have be removed by people and their elected representatives

You assert this but, again, provide no reason to believe it except for the reader's faith in your omniscience. Now, there may be a forum in which that would be effective, but here that is unlikely to get you much.

If they choose not to do any of these things, then, as I wrote, we really won't do anything about carbon dioxide.

But stationary, large-scale electricity production is not only major source of CO2 emissions, nor is it the highest intensity source in terms of emissions per unit of energy. So why would this be the key indicator?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 6, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, the issue isn't whether global warming has been proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" - even if it were likely, that's risk enough...

Posted by: Neil B. on February 6, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Yancey Ward's comments about nuclear power, I have always thought it pretty stupid when someone says on a blog or Usenet or wherever, "Oh, so and so didn't reply -- so he's running away from the argument in defeat!" After all, people have other things to do than keep up with a discussion on a blog, and sometimes they just don't get back to a thread.

Having said that, it seems to me that it is typical of nuclear proponents nowadays to show up and lob their "NUCLEAR IS THE ONLY ANSWER TO GLOBAL WARMING AND IF YOU DON'T SUPPORT A HUGE EXPANSION OF NUCLEAR POWER THEN YOU AREN'T SERIOUS ABOUT DEALING WITH GLOBAL WARMING!" bomb, and then when that assertion immediately crumbles in the face of reality, they run away -- because it's a bogus claim that simply doesn't stand up to serious analysis.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 7, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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