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Episode 75 — Global Warming


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#1 Earwolf Admin

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:02 PM

Things heat up as Green Circle award winner Steven Yates returns to talk Global Warming on today’s Professor Blastoff! Steven joins Tig, Kyle, and David to discuss some of the many causes of global warming, adapting to the continually changing climate, and if we should enjoy this interglacial period. Also, Kyle shares a story about one of the worst moments in his life involving a dog and an elevator.

#2 michaelm

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 01:06 AM

Yeah, Steven Yates is back. "Our favor...One of our favorite guests" Great episode...from strangled dogs to Trump to Al Gay-ore riding a pink bicycle with a banana seat. Kyle: I keep on looking for the Twitter feeds you read from...
P.S. The Blastoff shirt is the most comfortable shirt I own...

#3 Gym Sockerman

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 01:42 AM

Someone really should compile Kyle's stories. Though if I listened I might choke to death on my own laughter.

#4 Diggums

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:35 AM

They never posted the dog clip on the site. I'm guessing this is it...



#5 Gym Sockerman

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 03:01 AM

Didn't really follow Yates's argument as to how we're not making the world more ugly. Seemed to boil down to "we're better than we used to be." That's not really a counter. But it's a drum that he kept beating. Had a few problems with the arguments this guy was raising, David nailed one earlier about more plant life on the Earth as being directly influenced by us planting more than there being more CO2 in the air.

#6 Luke HENDERSON!

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:39 AM

Haven't listened yet, but love seeing Steven on again! Oh, and glad it's a topic that everyone agrees on. I'm sure the forums will reflect a nice civil discussion with point-counter point.

#7 Jengaman

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:49 AM

Can we have a "the hatch" episode?

#8 jughead

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:42 AM

Even after hearing all of the arguments for and againist as to what is possibly causing global warming, I am still under the belief that the single most contributing factor to global warming was David dropping a duece on Venice Beach!

#9 Luke HENDERSON!

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:51 AM

View PostBarry Cohen, on 23 October 2012 - 06:42 AM, said:

Even after here all of the arguments for and againist as to what is possibly causing global warming, I am still under the belief that the single most contributing factor to global warming was David dropping a duece on Venice Beach!


Fair point.

#10 LemonDropKid

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:16 AM

View PostGym Sockerman, on 23 October 2012 - 03:01 AM, said:

Didn't really follow Yates's argument as to how we're not making the world more ugly. Seemed to boil down to "we're better than we used to be." That's not really a counter. But it's a drum that he kept beating. Had a few problems with the arguments this guy was raising, David nailed one earlier about more plant life on the Earth as being directly influenced by us planting more than there being more CO2 in the air.


My problem whenever someone argues that the world would be "better" or "more beautiful" without human beings is that if there were no human beings, there wouldn't be a concept of beauty. We only consider this planet "good" because it is hospitable to carbon-based life, which is us. To a life form that was allergic to oxygen, this planet would be a nightmare. Also, Earth doesn't have a consciousness, so Earth isn't able to care whether there are humans using up its resources or not.

#11 Steven Yates

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:39 AM

Hey fellow Blastronauts! Thanks for the kind words above. To address Gym's point, I'm not sure I really addressed the question of whether mankind has made the world less or more ugly. It can be a deep philosophical point about whether nature is supreme beauty and is mankind part of nature. I would only say that back before human civilization the human lifespan was short and brutal, but everything was "more natural" and therefore perhaps more beautiful. Mankind seem to me to be getting better at minimizing impact of certain industrial activities and creating more sustainability in certain activities. And we have undone a lot of the damage we had done with respect to air pollution.

As far as the point about an increase in biomass being more related to an increase in acres farmed than atmospheric CO2 concentration, I would think that when one considers oceanic biomass like phytoplankton and natural plantlife versus the decreasing (in some areas) acreage farmed due to increased crop yields, I might be correct, but I would certainly listen to someone armed with hard numbers.

Once again, I love Professor Blastoff and Tig, Kyle, David and Aaron. It is a tremendous thrill for me to be a guest on the show and I appreciate the positive feedback. Yes, I am angling to get yet another appearance. It is that much fun! Love to all.

Welp, that's been comment!

#12 Not Erik

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:31 AM

Steven Yates's point about how one's position on global warming can be influenced by his or her vested interest as opposed to scientific fact is certainly valid. That he would then cite disdain for large automobiles and "these big corporations" as examples of bias is a little mystifying. There is nearly universal consensus within the scientific community that global warming is being caused by increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The rapid proliferation of atmospheric carbon dioxide directly correlates, year by year, with the growth of human industry since the start of the 19th century. I defy you to find me a paper that was not funded by an oil company, GOP think tank, or some other "vested interest" that proves otherwise. To throw in misleading facts like the proportion of CO2 to other every other molecules in the atmosphere only muddies the water.

David's counterpoint was well fought but a little over matched. I suggest you find an atmospheric scientist and bring her on the show to set the record straight.

#13 ComedyGangBang

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:28 AM

View PostNot Erik, on 23 October 2012 - 10:31 AM, said:



David's counterpoint was well fought but a little over matched. I suggest you find an atmospheric scientist and bring her on the show to set the record straight.


What are you talking about? David was basically on Steven's side.

Kyle was the only person close to challenging Steven's opinions, but that was undercut by his Al Gay-ore Inconvenient Truth performance(which was the highlight of the episode, for me)

Steven is probably my favorite Professor Blastoff guest, but this episode was sorta confusing and muddled.

#14 Steven Yates

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:28 AM

Not Erik, thank you for demonstrating the divide that pervades this discussion. There are two sides to this question, each cherry-picking its facts to back up its own "truth". I am sure I am not immune to this phenomena.

Please allow me to clarify my mystifying statement. Anti-automobile and anti-corporate viewpoints are often espoused by global warming alarmists.

Citing "nearly universal consensus" is another technique used to argue the point without addressing the science. And you need only look at the GW skeptic sites to find huge numbers of non-oil company-funded scientists and engineers who don't think GW is influenced in any significant way by anthropogenic CO2. Most of the weather/climate sources I know of recognize that temperatures went down during the periods from 1875-1910, 1946-1976 and 1998-2010 despite steadily increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. And the 0.01% increase in CO2 as part of the atmosphere is a fact I have never heard disputed. I recommend wattsupwiththat.com as a site that provides the skeptic view. There are lots of alarmist sites too.

Again, the point is that what should be science has become politics. Don't take my word for anything. Everyone should think for themselves. The beauty of science is that one man (or woman) armed with scientific truth beats "nearly universal consensus" every time.

Enjoy the inter-glacial!

#15 Amanda

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 01:12 PM

Steven, thank you for taking the perfect opportunity to quote "MacArthur Park"! It's what immediately came to my mind, too.

(Also: "It is un-fabulous to get warmer.")

#16 Kickpuncher

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 04:05 PM

I try to just enjoy the comedy value of PB and ignore the frequent scientific misinformation and logic gaps (mostly on David's part), but this episode was kind of infuriating.

Steven, you say "Citing 'nearly universal consensus' is another technique used to argue the point without addressing the science." I think NE's point is that WE don't need to address the science because most of the brilliant people who study this for a living are doing that for us. Why would that level be reached if evidence wasn't strongly on their side? If "nearly universal consensus" isn't acceptable, what is? 'Vast majority'? 'Majority'? Which of those levels is enough of a burden of proof to demand action? And what are the negative consequences of taking mitigating action? I agree about the politicization being shameful (and find it really sad that it's come to a point where no one wants to touch it, as evidenced by the debates), but I also think that framing this sort of discussion strictly in 'global warming'/'climate change' terms is reductive. Granted, that was the topic of this episode, but still.

I've seen a lot of data about the cyclical nature of weather (I actually created/adapted the figures for a book which is largely about this subject, and some related papers), but those medium-term drops don't negate the fact that the long-term trend is upward. Steven also brought up the complicated nature of CO2/temperature data, effect on oceans, etc. Regarding the oceans, I think the accepted view is that there is a sort of avalanche effect where higher temperatures in the oceans melts polar ice, which 1) releases even more CO2 into the atmosphere, and 2) causes the ocean to absorb more light/heat from the sun rather than reflecting it, both of which amplify the temperature increase.

Anyway, I'm sorry if this is coming across as too strong of an 'attack mode', because I do appreciate the opportunity for discussion and have always enjoyed Steven's appearances on the show. I'm also directing this at Steven because David isn't going to come in here and defend his views, many of which seem to come from ignorance or misinformation more than a difference in informed opinions. But I'd also love to hear an opposing view from an expert on the show given that I'm a little rusty on all of this and that only a very small fraction of Blastronauts will see what any of us say in the forum.

#17 Amanda

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:03 PM

Something must have been in the...atmosphere tonight (sorry). This evening's Frontline:

http://www.pbs.org/w...imate-of-doubt/

#18 Sean G

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:20 PM

I have to agree with NE and Kickpuncher on their basic premise that the science on this is in fact settled, even if the debate and pseudo-science isn't. However, I am not going to let my passion on this subject turn me on either Green Circle Award-Winning Stephen Yates or any blastronaut who might feel the jury is still out. I also want to echo that I was very surprised at how one-sided the discussion was, in that it was primarily "who knows?" I expect comedy and some insight from PB, but Global Warming seems like such a slam-dunk.

Al Gay-ore was an hilarious addition to Kyle's cast of impressions. I was thrilled to hear more Trump. But my favorite was the recap of all of Kyle's crazy adventures. String those together and it's the "Best Of" show we're always looking for.

#19 Sean G

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:25 PM

View PostAmanda, on 23 October 2012 - 07:03 PM, said:

Something must have been in the...atmosphere tonight (sorry). This evening's Frontline:

http://www.pbs.org/w...imate-of-doubt/


I just finished that and I really want to cry. It was a shame to hear how many things were echoed in this episode of PB.

#20 pongo

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:05 AM

by the way I hope i was not the only one who noticed how hilariously Aaron said the word "page" when doing the ad for earwolf.com