Why Zimmerman and Integral Ecology Disagree with Global Warming Science

In Reference to: 
World Leadership Crisis

Before moving on (disappointingly) to listen to what is expected to be a discussion that is focused one-sidedly upon controversy and is apparently opposed to the current scientific thinking on climate change in the name (ironically) of being "Integral" and holding numerous "perspectives," I would first like to point to some oddities or discrepancies that I noticed with regard to the article's claims or aims to transparency and being capable of holding numerous "perspectives" in light of the author's "suggested readings" which would indicate otherwoise:

Whoever offered those hyperlinks (be it Zimmerman, an Integral Life staffer, or otherwise) as reading suggestions should be alerted that the science is now settled such that there is no longer a "debate" on climate change except among non-scientists and that those who would claim otherwise (that a debate still exists within the scientific community) will have to explain how this could be true when the latest polls reveal that climatologists are 97% in agreement with the position of the IPCC on climate change: indicating that an "Integral perspective" does not necessarily privilege one's stance to be superior to that of any other scientifically-uninformed position of partiality and limited perspective.. Especially given that every single link offered appears to be focused upon highlighting controversy and in each case is decidedly one-sidedly opposed to the current scientific thinking on climate change or efforts to address it (or if not one-sidedly opposed, could otherwise be misconstrued or misinterpreted as such by the less discriminating reader to produce the desired result of uncertainty in Global Warming Science by Zimmerman, et. al.).  In light of these discrepancies or oddities found within a presentation that claims of all things to champion numerous different perspectives and also "transparency"--we cannot feel confident that the interview itself would not also be infected by ideology and focused upon intrigue or controversy at the expense of truth which it then presents as pluralistic and/or Integral and "transparent" when it is clearly none of that (or at best, only pluralistic green but not integral due to its inability to distinguish low-quality propaganda from quality items that are truly newsworthy).  For instance (will try to keep comments minimal):

The next move is yours. Even if you aren't a leading Washington policy-maker, take a moment to observe how you handle perspectives in the complex and contentious parts of your own life. A little extra sanity can go a long way. If you like, sharpen your perspective-processing skills in our interactive poll/forum: How Would You Spend $100 Billion To Reduce Suffering World?

Concerning the link above:

Didn't Bjorn Lomborg invoke the very same argument by making the very same either/or comparison in the form of an inquiry on how best to spend $100 billion dollars or 0.2% of global GDP to reduce world suffering? 

Given that Lomborg's argument of spending $100 billion to reduce world suffering was ultimately a political argument against cap and trade (by pitting a hypothetical cost of climate action against every other issue in the world as an either/or perspectival (first-tier) alternative), the inquirer is merely parrotting the words of Lomborg who was offering a hypothetical situation to argue against cap and trade; it appears: which according to Lomborg would not work to resolve climate change "anyway,"--so may as well "be spent" on a "different" cause that is "resolvable," according to the logic. The question is identical to Lomborg's and is linked to a climate change page so evidently has the same agenda in mind..

McKinsey and Company estimates that the cost to implement all possible abatement technologies and practices would be between €200 and €350 billion (US$285 to $500 billion) a year by 2030 which would be 0.4 % of the forecasted Gross World Product (GWP) in 2030. (McKinsey and Company, 2009) Another estimate by IEA forecasting to 2050 . . . . approximates a cost of 1.1% of GWP each year from now until 2050. This averages to about $1.1 trillion per year. It is important to note that their analysis states that "this expenditure reflects a re-direction of economic activity and employment, and not necessarily a reduction of GDP." (OECD/IEA, 2008)

If the environment is priceless, we should be willing to pay some serious bucks to protect.  The either/or argument presents a false dilemma in the form of a moral argument to prevent climate action.  Had the climate problem not existed to require $100 billion or more to fix, I hardly think that Lomborg or any one else here would have reason to propose out of the goodness of their heart to donate $100 billion to reduce world suffering.  Which makes it all the more disingenuous.  Only argued out of convenience and you know it.

The cost of inaction is over 50% of world GDP and a significant reduction in world population as opposed to 1-2% of world GDP to invest in climate policy resulting not in a reduction of world GDP but in a redirection of economic activity and employment.

To put it all in perspective: people around the world spend a staggering $290 billion a year on over-the-counter beauty products.  Based on this logic, all people should stop buying make-up and beauty products and use the money instead to feed the hungry and poor.

$1.1 trillion dollars of the world GDP is wasted on war cost each year.  And this IS a reduction of GDP.

If you're an information junkie, here's more info on the climate change debate:

Climategate was a PR disaster

The article above was evidently cited as "informative" due to its potential to implicate Climategate in a "neutral" tone as a PR disaster for science rather than for the perpetrators of the hoax itself (e.g. climate change deniers behind this event) to thereby cast the entire science of climate change in a negative light in the hope that the reader comes away from this article convinced erroneously that Climategate, itself a bogus scandal fabricated by climate change skeptics/hackers/deniers via stolen and manipulated emails from climatologists, could somehow reveal that the peer-review process is corrupt or flawed or that the peer review process is in need of healthy reform via "open access," public scrutiny, or via a public online annotation of the manuscript by readers of The Guardian when one is really not at all neutral but is a skeptic/denier when actually--all of the evidence thus far indicates that the skeptics' claims that the scientific data had somehow been manipulated by climatologists "to cover up information, to prevent access to climate data, and to keep research from climate change skeptics out of the climate science literature" were themselves found to to be unfounded accusations based entirely on stolen soundbytes from private emails that climate change deniers/hackers/skeptics had hacked from climatologists and then manipulated.  All of which amounted to cherry-picked words that were taken out of context by these hackers and then published all over the Internet to suggest something that was never intended to be suggested by the climatologists themselves although it is quite possible that the less-discriminating reader (which includes the well-meaning but gullible "Integralists" who never bothered to read past a few soundbytes) could potentially misread the article to conclude therefrom that a certain truth is to be transparently revealed and uncovered by the hoax itself concerning the scientific integrity of these scientists.  Actually, a closer examination revealed it to be merely a case of denier propaganda presented as "truth": and all of this carefully orchestrated and timed so that its outbreak would coincide precisely with the Copenhagen Conference in an effort to presumably inflict the greatest amount of PR damage that a smear campaign could potentially inflict upon legitimate science.  Hardly an issue that I would consider to be essential or newsworthy to share among Integral Life members by placing it among my top four "reading selections" on climate change issues (unless it is the agenda of the sharer of the article link to cast doubt on the science of climate change itself by giving equal weight to the most discredited denier arguments out there) or maybe the author himself/herself is so taken by the propaganda that he or she is convinced by that there is any truth to be found in this hoax integrally or transparently.   Let us hope that Michael Zimmerman's claim that the peer-review process is somehow flawed is not based on this particular incident.

Could Cap and Trade cause another market meltdown?

Why am I not surprised that the the article on cap and trade would be a worst-case scenario prediction for cap and trade by making a chilling comparision of it with economic meldown and the subprime mortgage lending fiasco while failing to cite any articles that would remind us of what the ramifications would be for humans by the alternative of inaction and no international agreement?  Clearly there are risks involved if the Waxman-Markey bill is signed into law and doesn't get the rules "right" yet the best we can hope for is that Republican and Democratic representatives work towards making their cap-and-trade alternatives as ethical and as transparent as possible since what is given as an alternative--no climate legislation and therefore Hell and High Water and a reduction of world population to 1 billion by 2100--is far worse than any worst-case scenario that could be brought on via economic meltdown.. 

Does the author truly believe that a modest carbon tax as proposed by Lomborg for R&D as an alternative would fly among Republicans?  Ultimately, when it comes down to it--it appears that those who are most strenuously opposed to cap and trade are also the very ones who are most apt to oppose a carbon tax or any other climate legislation as well.  That is--unless one's opposition to cap and trade has more to do with the idea of putting a cap on pollution, or with creating a potential slippery slope into a "one world government," or that perhaps one feels that a climate bill "of some kind" is inevitable.  In which case one could reasonably conjure up all the worst-case scenarios that are imaginable with cap and trade in order to kill the bill (and kill a cap on pollution and an international agreement as well and the climate as well) by pointing out the many possible loopholes that could arise to make cap and trade vulnerable to speculation and manipulation by the markets so as to permit "the lesser of the two 'evils'," a modest carbon tax, to be signed into law: which would no longer be internationally-binding and would fail to hold the industries accountable by placing a ceiling on pollution and, btw--not any less prone to corruption or manipulation by the markets than a cap and trade legislation or any other climate policy.

De Boer Quits UN Post

I read the article, but see little reason to highlight this as a "must read" unless the point of reporting De Boer's resignation is to repeatedly call attention to one's persistent partiality toward an issue by casting doubt on the effort to establish an international agreement on climate policy.  Yet not at all surprising should one's position be perspectivally-fixed to one position that is decidedly opposed international agreements and is aimed at casting doubt on the science of climate change such that one would find the resignation of a member as an "encouraging sign" and then feel compelled to share this "good news" with others.

World Misled Over Glacier Meltdown

The IPCC prediction of an imminent demise by 2035 was based on the quoting of an unsubstantiated source (a non-peer reviewed study) although we should point out that the Himalayas are still melting and at an accelerated rate.  This is why an entire village had to relocate in Pakistan this year: not as a result of an ever-growing giant ball of glacier growing so large and rolling down on top of them and crushing them with snow and ice but due to glacial meltwater from the Himalayas flooding the entire village out.  This is bad news for billions around the world who rely on meltwater to survive.  So the only error amounts to the report's premature prediction of complete meltdown by 2035 because it could not be substantiated by a peer-reviewed study.  This reflects a breakdown in the IPCC process but not on scientific integrity as the title above seems to suggest. I am aware of a total of three such errors in a 3,000 page IPCC report. 

Whoever is compiling this report for Integral Life is not being totally transparent and seems to have a hidden political agenda by not bothering to put such a headline into context.

This is actually not the first time that errors were found in the IPCC report.  However, with the exception of two of the three errors pointed out above--the remainder of the errors are due to IPCC underestimating predictions in order to maintain a scientific consensus--not overestimates as the pointing out of this article on Integral Life seems to suggest. 

In that sense, whoever selected this article is misleading Integral Life readers by selectively highlighting one of only two times that the IPCC had ever overestimated on an prediction.  Why such information would be cherry-picked without putting the error into the context of only a few out of a 3,000  page report was evidently in order to mislead the reader into thinking that the IPCC intentionally and habitually overestimates its predictions and misleads the world and cannot be relied upon as a credible scientific source.  So who's misleading who?

The only other error of overestimation made by the IPCC to my current knowledge came as a result of information provided directly by the Dutch government about the percentage of the Netherlands that would be vulnerable to flooding as a result of rising sea levels. The government corrected that percentage in a subsequent statement.

The third error results in the divergent viewpoints as to sea-level rise by various different scientific studies and predictions.  The IPCC's estimates are far too conservative, according to most scientists.  An independent review by the National Academy of Sciences will review the entire 3,000 pages in light of the popular media focusing only on the one or two overestimates that were discovered.

Surely the person who shared this article is not attempting to make a generalization about melting glaciers worldwide based on this article alone?

Let me help you out:


One can only wonder whether the author who chose to share this article was simply doing so out of ignorance for being unaware that there are isolated cases of growing glaciers while the overwhelming majority of glaciers are melting (and at an accelerating pace, as well) or whether he was purposefully intending to mislead readers into thinking that the scientific claim for glacial melting is a "hoax" by sharing this one exceptional case with others).

 However, that said, as a reminder: the Himalayas are still melting: not growing.  That is why people in Pakistan and Nepal are torrentially flooded out.

Why We Disagree Over Climate Change (Book by Mike Hulme)

The title above appears to be a misnomer and would have been more appropriately titled as, "Why Zimmerman, Integral Ecology, and the Scientifically-Uninformed Disagree with Global Warming Science."

I have not read the book but based on a web search for book reviews, why am I not surprised that the vast majority of positive endorsements would come from the climate change denier websites?  What does this say of Integral? 

The following review of Mike Hulme's book basically summarizes what my response would be to the overall message that I am getting from Integral Ecology (which seems to embrace Hulme's position, based on the book review in the link below) and what I predict will be my response to the audio portion featuring Michael Zimmerman:

Full link:


To summarise the actual situation : unless we stop further Climate Change, degradation to the Biosphere will escalate. Climate Change is intimately connected to, and affects all parts of the Environment. So it is a false proposition that concentrating on Climate Change detracts from the general protection of the Environment. It has to be “both” rather than “one”. We have to work on poverty, development, agricultural decline, freshwater stress, desertification, biodiversity and Climate Change all at the same time.

In my view it is to be regretted that Mike Hulme has not realised how his words can be used against science, and that he has continued to express complex positions during the “Climategate” scandal, when all the world really wants is a simple summary.

Were scientists lying ? Were they manipulating data ? Is the world warming ? Can scientists be trusted ? Can the data be trusted ? Is the world cooling ? These are the questions that most people want to know firm answers to. If the only firm answers are coming from the Climate Change sceptics, then we are in trouble.

This is not a time for complex, esoterical musings on the nature of science and society. They can easily be misinterpreted.

For example, the two press articles below have been used by Climate Change deniers to claim that Mike Hulme says the IPCC process is no good and should be ditched (see Marc Marano making that very claim in the video below) :-



What Mike Hume said in 2006:


“Consider a United Nations estimate that global warming would increase the number of people at risk of hunger [...] a 14% rise, if current development patterns continue. That increase could be counteracted by spending on better irrigation systems, drought-resistant crops and more-efficient food transport systems, said Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in England. “If you’re really concerned about drought, those are much more effective strategies than trying to bring down greenhouse gas concentrations,” he said.” ”

Rather scary if you ask me that a so-called eminent scientist would propose counteracting the effects of climate change (such as hunger) with better irrigation systems and whatnot while ignoring climate change itself.