Nick Santos You keep saying that, but your examples are just as biased as what you are purporting to see in the polls. The media loves a scandalous story. Remember when they leapt onto the birther craze? Remember when they helped the tea party rise to prominence? Remember when they helped weaken healthcare legislation by heavily reporting the town hall? It's not one-sided. Right now, the Obama campaign is doing a far better job of making Romney look scandalous using his own words. The polls aren't skewed - not intentionally, and probably not on accident either. Mitt Romney is just reaping the fruit of his words.
Nick Santos This was exactly my question. Complaining about the media protecting one candidate deserves a big  label and a suggestion of the better way to obtain an unbiased result (not just one in the favor of the other candidate).
Nick Santos Yeah, and to some extent, since vulnerability also includes our ability to adapt (think money) as well as our total exposure (ie, tropical areas have far more endemic species, so they have more opportunity to see species go extinct), we're seeing that play out in that map. The U.S. is experiencing and will continue to experience impacts from climate change, but much of it will get lost in the noise for the next few decades. Once we start seeing places like California getting significantly less snowpack on a regular basis, or the midwest getting significantly less rainfall on a regular basis, that's when I think maybe the country at large will quantify losses - sadly, when it's too late to stop (but not too late too adapt).
Nick Santos Their "scarestistics" were generated by their own modelling, using the sources in the methods document I linked. As I said in the article though, the numbers themselves really aren't that important, because the general trend will be correct, even if the model is off a bit, and we can validate that with current observations, fingerprint studies, and other models. Still, it seems like you're possibly questioning some climate science, and this is not the report that is going to contain the most answers (I, too, find how they've chosen to present the whole package annoying). http://skepticalscience.com is well sourced, as are the IPCC reports at http://ipcc.ch - those will both point you to the scientific foundation this all is based on.
Nick Santos Hi Ed, glad you're looking at this aspect. One of the reports I linked is the executive summary - not meant to have sources. The first link goes to the full report's page. The authors also released a methods document (linked in the article) that details what they did and why - http://bit.ly/TYEqf6 - I'm interested in what you think of how they arrived at their conclusions. They have 18 pages of citations at the end that contain the information they fed into their model. As for who conducted the study, I'm not certain - these people (http://bit.ly/SsV93v), many of whom have backgrounds in energy, climate, and economics, at least were involved and advised the process. (continued in next).
Nick Santos One more thing re: skewing. Nate Silver, while employed at NYT, also correctly predicted the Republican wins in 2010. He slightly overpredicted R wins in the Senate and slightly underpredicted in the House: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FiveThirtyEight#2010_U.S._mid-term_elections
Nick Santos Hi Chaker, I encourage you to do more research on this issue and see the rest of the comments on this article for links on how we know that this particular climatic change is human-caused. Still, even if it *wasn't* human caused - again, it is - we have a whole lot we need to do to prepare for its occurrence. This particular report was more about who will be affected, so that doesn't go against your statements. We do need to adapt, and we need to help those in countries with the fewest resources to prepare for new social, health, food, and water issues they are about to face.
Nick Santos Yeah, in some ways, it might work like that. Our inability to adapt quickly enough as a species makes us less fit - but it's too bad that money has a lot to do with fitness in this case. On the other side of that same coin, one of the major points of "reduce your impact" that gets talked about is choosing not to have kids - or at least fewer kids - which is a huge, huge decision, and which a few people I know are actually doing (not just for environmental reasons). I guess it's good that we at least have a downward forcing on our population. Another side anecdote, mass human die-offs show up in the climatic record (like plagues) and climatic changes occurred at the same time as historical instability (http://bit.ly/UyzcRW). Cool/crazy
Nick Santos I don't think disregarding it because it's NYT does it justice. Nate Silver, the author of the model and all of those post, was independent for years and got hired on because he's just about the best. He includes polls from just about everyone out there and also takes care to account for statistical biases in the polls, no matter what the direction. He talks about his adjustments in the posts. His overall accuracy is pretty amazing (in 2k8, he correctly predicted everything except Indiana and Nebraska District 2).
Nick Santos You're absolutely correct on the smaller foot aspect. We can't continue to grow indefinitely and expect our environmental impact to decrease (and demographers agree). On the planetary cycles, they do exist and they do affect the climate, but the climate models usually account for them very well and numerous studies (See http://www.skepticalscience.com/10-indicators-of-a-human-fingerprint-on-climate-change.html to start, but I can point you to more if you are interested)have determined that this particular instance of climate change is much faster than previous instances and that the body of evidence says it's human caused.
Nick Santos Jesse, I'm interested in your take on poll models like fivethirtyeight, which has been pretty accurate historically and is currently predicting a sizable Obama lead based on a synthesis of a large number of polls nationally and in swing states: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/
Nick Santos Hi Mike. Thanks for the comment. In the report they do attribute the deaths to a specific cause, but I think their attribution of deaths to these sources is more involved. They have a summary table of that information somewhere on page 4 of their Executive Summary. As for the inevitability of climate change, I'm interested in seeing your sources for that. Regardless, whether or not it's inevitable, the size of the change matters, so we still have the power to avoid more significant impacts and changes on the scale of 4-6 degrees of change (and everything that entails)
Nick Santos Absolutely agree. Some of the things mentioned in this article are legal *and* necessary, and all of them were established tactics used by Obama's predecessors. It doesn't inspire confidence that a successor will be different - and absolutely no reason to believe Mitt Romney in particular would be different. A particular nitpick. The waivers for work/welfare were a concession to governors of the Republican party who didn't think they could make the administration's plans work, but who thought they had better ideas for how to get people employed in their states. It's not an attempt to circumvent the constitution and was designed to give some power to states. See http://bit.ly/MrTKb9
Nick Santos Great point Alex. I think we should see other individuals' actions as benefits on top of ours instead of as negating factors. The thing is, individual actions are semi-independent events. In the vast majority of cases, that other individual will consume that unit of X regardless of my actions, which does affect whether or not my end goal is reached, but not whether or not my impact is made. For example climate change will happen, but it has magnitudes, so my lack of consumption does help, no matter how another individual behaves. We get into the leadership aspect (will China be compelled to act more strongly if the US does? We don't know until we try), but generally speaking, for individuals, these actions are distinct.
Nick Santos They are responsible for their messaging, but it's only one factor of many in the changes in understanding on climate change. To put the blame only there is misguided. The origin is also not irrelevant because it shows that a segment of our government with conservative principles once held them to be good. A properly constructed policy doesn't enrich traders - and there are versions by senators wary of just that sort of thing. You're concerned about a specific implementation of carbon credits, but bringing environmental costs into the economic system remains a good idea.
Nick Santos Absolutely. We can't make progress if we ignore, or worse harm, the segments of society that have the least ability to deal with additional costs. I still think that this is the best option we have in the interim, but it may need to go slow and in stages to make sure that harm is mitigated as we get to more critical sectors (like food). You're right that this is a hard sell right now, especially given the delay (or failure) of these proposals at the national level. California and the Northeast are providing somewhat of a test of our ability to do these things right now. It'll be interesting to see what lessons we can learn.
Nick Santos Suggesting that the lack of belief in climate change is the fault of climate change advocates lacks all historical context on why they started behaving that way. If you look at the past, you'll see that the advocates became louder and more exasperated as time went on. I'll agree that it's not working, but the problem is the massive disinformation campaign. The fact that carbon credits and cap and trade are nonstarters blows my mind. These used to be Republican ideas, and they were abandoned in the increased polarization. They're good ideas that account for a massive social problem within our existing economic structure.
Nick Santos One more short thing - Your comment really hits the elephant in the room. I had naively hoped the current downturn would at least lead us to begin reassessing our economic structure, but it clearly hasn't. I wish I could give you multiple mics :).
Nick Santos Hi Nate - Thanks for the thoughtful comments. You're absolutely correct, and that particular hurdle of switching to a non-consumption based society is probably the biggest challenge we'll ever face. We *will* have to do it or face exhausting our resources eventually, but when and how is up to us. That said, I don't have the answer. In the interim, policies that put financial costs on externalities will help degradation to be accounted for in the economy, which will help us account for it. In the long run, we'll need something new. Looking backward to prior societies and structures will yield some results, but we have to fit them into today. This is an area for us to focus resources right now, but as you can tell, I don't have the answer.
Nick Santos I think we're in agreement there - purchasing (and not purchasing) is important, but it's only a piece of the puzzle. We also need to go further, given the current level of impact reduction from consumer behavior alone. Far better is a re-evaluation of need, our culture of consumption and economics that don't account for externalities.
Nick Santos Let's ignore choice then - the real issue is why this matters at all? You keep directing your arguments to other social and personal problems, but what is the problem with homosexuality? I'm not concerned with alcoholics right now. What problems does homosexuality create that have you so concerned?
Nick Santos Someone's sexual orientation absolutely does not have the same dangerous effects on society as alcoholism, rape, or incest, and your attempt to cast it in that light shows your ignorance in spite of what you've read. When did you choose to be straight?