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Earth Politics

'Gaia' Scientist Admits Mispredicting Rate of Climate Change 744

DesScorp writes "James Lovelock, the scientist that came up with the 'Gaia Theory' and a prominent herald of climate change, once predicted utter disaster for the planet from climate change, writing 'before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.' Now Lovelock is walking back his rhetoric, admitting that he and other prominent global warming advocates were being alarmists. In a new interview with MSNBC he says: '"The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened," Lovelock said. "The climate is doing its usual tricks. There's nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now," he said. "The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that," he added.' Lovelock still believes the climate is changing, but at a much, much slower pace."
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'Gaia' Scientist Admits Mispredicting Rate of Climate Change

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  • by AshFan ( 879808 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:12AM (#39794217)
    Don't just whine about it, do something! Personally, I plan on running my air conditioning all summer with my windows and doors open. If we all work together, we can turn this thing around. WHO'S WITH ME!?
    • WHO'S WITH ME!?

      A frighteningly large number of people, apparently.

    • WHO'S WITH ME!?

      - you are 3 steps behind. How about having AC and heating and humidifiers and dehumidifiers running all the time at the same time?

  • Climatologists Agree (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:18AM (#39794297)

    This pretty much brings James Lovelock into agreement the mainstream science, where the consensus prediction is for anthropogenic warming of at most a few degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. And hey, that's exactly what you're supposed to do when confronted with actual data, isn't it?

    I'm still waiting for the deniers to do the same.

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:23AM (#39794363) Homepage

      There's a difference between agreeing the data is correct, and agreeing WHY it's like that.

      I would probably agree that their data is correct and temperatures are rising.

      Somehow linking that to humans, that's the REALLY controversial part and it's MUCH harder to provide fact in that case. Almost impossible. At least without a several-million-year-long scientifically controlled investigation (and, no, fossil records, ice-cores, etc. do NOT give us the reason, they give us some facts).

      WHY Earth is heating is still completely unknown - why it's EVER heated has always been unknown. We don't even know what prompted ice-ages in the past and they were seriously major events. Thus, forming government policy or charging me indirectly via my tax for related green initiatives because "humans are warming the planet" is ludicrous at best.

      Facts are easy to confirm or deny - and anyone who goes against them is usually an idiot. It's the WHY of the facts and the things that you CAN'T collect facts for - that's where science is made.

      • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:02AM (#39794931) Homepage
        The burden of proof lies on the people making extraordinary claims. If someone is claiming that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide, an established greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere will not impact global temperatures, then it is up to them to prove such a fantastical claim.
  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:22AM (#39794349)
    So where's the news here? This nut was never a credible climate scientist in the first place, and I don't think any of his previous views were shared by anybody who is a credible climate scientist.

    Lovelock makes a living out of making sensational, half-baked pronouncements and selling them as science. Good for him for admitting he was wrong, but that doesn't discredit any of the actual science.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dargaud ( 518470 ) <(slashdot2) (at) (gdargaud.net)> on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:28AM (#39794441) Homepage
    Since when is James Lovelock a climate scientist ?!? His predictions on the subject always had the same value as just about any other rambling slashdoter.
  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:36AM (#39794579)

    Yes, Lovelock was being overly alarmist. He also has no expertise in climate change prediction, so his guess is as good as yours. The fact that he's wrong doesn't mean that actual experts who've made less extreme predictions are also wrong.

    Lovelock is a black-and-white kind of guy(*), who tends toward hyperbole. His Gaia hypothesis is the same way: he takes a small truth about negative feedbacks in Earth systems and blows it up into some huge quasi-religious theory of everything.

    * Yes, that was a Daisyworld joke.

  • Lovelock is a chemist, not a climatologist, and his hypothesis is clearly a chemists view. Also, no living organism supports Lovelocks theory; which shoots it in the foot. In other words: Natural selection would need a means of cross species reproductive communication.

    Consensus of actual experts in the field did no agree with the pace of his predictions. Media loved it "FEAR NOW!" and Hollywood used is to spawn another round disaster movies.

    • by KDEnut ( 1673932 )
      Hey now, Don't label all of us chemists just because this guy's a whacko. I'll fix your statement for you:

      "Lovelock is a whacko, not a climatologist, and his hypothesis is clearly a whackos view."
  • by mchappee ( 22897 ) * on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:51AM (#39794769)

    He's a Gaia "scientist". May as well cover "Creation Scientist Admits Earth May Be a Bit Older"...


  • by exabrial ( 818005 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:55AM (#39794823)
    I think the science shows that our planet has gotten warmer by some small %, but science does not _clearly_ show that it is man made. It would be prudent to treat it as such and start changing our habits. A vast swath of moderates and 'average joes' hold this as a palatable view.

    However, liberals and Democrats (the primary voice of the AGW fight) will need to distance themselves from the climate extremists, scientologists, and alarmists, in order to gain any traction. I'll be ironic (considering my previous statement) and say no one likes polarization. Dimiss pseudo-science, even it 'agrees with' your cause.

    I'm honestly ready to stop buying gas. I'm tired of $100/tank fillups, but hybrid's suck and public transportation isn't convenient. Unfortunately, investment into better options won't occur with high taxes and weak economy.
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:07AM (#39794999)

    People got alarmist over Global Cooling then Global Warming and then Climate Change when the first two didn't pan out by name at hyped levels. The biggest problem is that people are fighting the wrong fight, being too concerned about CO2 levels. These energies are well intentioned, however they are misplaced.

    Climate change is inevitable no matter what we as a species do or don't do. We have a fossil record going back billions of years proving this, forces like plate [umass.edu] tectonics and changes from our own solar [scientificamerican.com] system or even supernova's [theregister.co.uk] all impact our climate.

    People have forgotten their environmental basics and in their zeal have created a self feeding hype machine. Scheduled catastrophes kept turning out to be false alarms. The problem is that this is causing a loss of credibility in scientists and science. People need to be concerned about pollution, for the sake of fighting pollution.

    Were spending so much time worrying about whether or not the concrete being poured for a windmill is going to have the proper carbon offset. As a result were forgetting about bigger things like rampant unregulated coal power plants in China and the smelting of old electronics by hand in Africa.

    We need to get back to science, back to fighting pollution and away from the hype.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault