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Old 08-11-2018, 12:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Climate change discussion: ten year review

After reading yet another article about climate change projections today, I took a walk down SLU memory lane to a post that has stuck in my mind for a decade.

Just over 10 years go, Aimee Weber cast her critical eye on my post about climate change, challenging whether my statements could withstand scientific scrutiny and then bowing out of the discussion as being "too political" for her tastes.

Back in 2008, I daresay Aimee and most people felt it was perfectly reasonable to say: "So if the Climate Change package is real...." I'm curious what her take on it is today (not to pick on her, but I've always considered that post to reflect the prevailing attitude of those times.)

Fast forward ten years and my alarmist theorizing hasn't gone away. I'm still steadfastly maintaining that climate change is real and it's a considerable danger to the long-term success of our species. Most scientists agree.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politic...change-709470/

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“Our future,” scientist James Lovelock has written, “is like that of the passengers on a small pleasure boat sailing quietly above the Niagara Falls, not knowing that the engines are about to fail.”
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I remember when Beau could be reasonable.

And I took what Aimee said as just being skeptical, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But climate science wasn't just born 10 years ago - scientists had been warning of a catastrophe for long before SLU ever came along. You (and I include me) just had to read and self-educate.

The "alarmist theory" of back then has become the reality today. Only those with a political axe to grind can still deny it. And do.

PS - I miss Malachi and Richie. I probably couldn't have said that about Richie back then, but re-reading that thread he actually sounds like a reasonable man. Or maybe I've radicalized so much it just seems that way to me.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's only in the USA, of course, that otherwise an appreciable number of well-read and intelligent people other than cranks and professional contrarians are in any doubt about global warming, and it's the only country in the world whose government denies the phenomenon.

To most other people, it's like denying any connection between smoking and diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease -- maybe a half-way respectable position, particularly for people who didn't want to quit smoking, 40 years ago, but not now.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I skimmed through that thread and am struck by the civility there versus threads on the topic since.

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Originally Posted by Beebo Brink View Post
There is a great deal of money being pored into disinformation campaigns to create the impression that the idea of climate change is still controversial and that anthropogenic factors are still questionable.

I have a jumble of words in my head about this, Trumpism not born in a vacuum, Koch Bros, conspiracy theory nuts, but nothing forming into an actual sentence.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cindy Claveau View Post
And I took what Aimee said as just being skeptical, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But climate science wasn't just born 10 years ago - scientists had been warning of a catastrophe for long before SLU ever came along.
Exactly this. Just ten years ago the popular perception of educated people Americans* with generally reasonable views of the world was that climate change was as yet unproven and possibly a fringe theory that couldn't withstand scientific scrutiny.

Of course that perception was totally, spectacularly wrong. The science at that point was already quite unequivocal, although my layman's ability to defend it was probably not very good.

I'm curious if the last ten years has made any difference. Does Aimee -- or all the someones like her -- still view the "climate change package" as deserving of skepticism? Has there been a perceptible shift in a larger audience or are you and I (speaking directly to Cindy here) still outliers in our society?

Even back in 2008 I had followed the science long enough to know we were in deep shit. The data was out there, heaps of it, and it was all pointing in the same direction. And I can remember one of my private reactions to Aimee's post -- because she was a person I generally regarded as sane and knowledgeable -- was "Dear god, if this is still considered a controversial theory, we're doomed".



* I changed this from "people" to "Americans" because, as Innula pointed out, the disinformation campaigns were most successful here, rather than in other countries.

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Old 08-11-2018, 01:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Beebo Brink View Post
I'm curious if the last ten years has made any difference. Does Aimee -- or all the someones like her -- still view the "climate change package" as deserving of skepticism? Has there been a perceptible shift in a larger audience or are you and I (speaking directly to Cindy here) still outliers in our society?
Back then, my own siblings were still arguing the old "the Earth is actually cooling" myth. But as time has gone by and the science has moved from obscure climate journals to front page news, none of them have said "ok you were right". They've just gone silent.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I found this 2016 Pew study on the topic. It should be alarming that only half of Americans accept climate change and the fact that it is largely man made.

Public views on climate change and climate scientists

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Nearly half of U.S. adults say climate change is due to human activity and a similar share says either that the Earth’s warming stems from natural causes or that there is no evidence of warming.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cindy Claveau View Post
But as time has gone by and the science has moved from obscure climate journals to front page news, none of them have said "ok you were right". They've just gone silent.
As for SLU, the only recent pushback on climate change has been from outright trolls, so I suppose that's another sign of progress. Conversely, however, there's not much active interest in PR&S for discussing climate change. We can chatter endlessly about the foibles of Trump and the GOP, and speculate about all manner of topics from Brexit to virtual reality, but "the end of life as we know it" seems to be a conversation stopper.

Of course, I suppose one could argue that a prediction of "We're doomed" doesn't really invite embellishment.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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We must stop to put all our efforts to try and stop/ reverse climate change.
Climate changes are as old as the world.
How much (what percentage) we influence that with our pollution is questionable.
Does that mean we can keep polluting? Heck no. We have to keep our planet as clean as possible.

I think we should put a lot more effort in adapting to the fact that the climate change is unstoppable. The earth has done it many times before and is doing it again.
We should be researching, planning and implementing how to survive this change, not how to reverse this.
Higher dykes where needed, other forms of agriculture, better flooding systems, cheaper fresh water production out of salt water, nifty cheap cooling systems, adapted housing, addapted lifestyles, etc. etc.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Climate changes are as old as the world.
How much (what percentage) we influence that with our pollution is questionable.
Does that mean we can keep polluting? Heck no. We have to keep our planet as clean as possible.
No, it's not "questionable." Scientists are refining those calculations every year and can make some fairly accurate assessments of how much human activity is contributing to climate change forcings for CO2 and methane.

However, it's not a point I'm terribly invested in arguing about because it's pretty clear than no one is interested in making the kind of disruptive changes that would lower our greenhouse emmissions in sufficient quantitites to save our collective asses.


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We should be researching, planning and implementing how to survive this change, not how to reverse this.
One should not preclude the other. We could do both, you know. As it stands, however, we're not doing either. Those who are most invested in denying climate change or the human contribution to it, will prevent planning because it gives climate change too much validity.

As a species, we'll deal with this as we do too many other things. We'll ignore things until they can't be ignored and then, finally, we'll react. And hope it's not too late to survive.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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We should do both. I agree on that.

But we should not rely so much on the possibility to reverse the climate.

To my likings we do not only do to little to get a cleaner world, we do way to little to prepare and adapt our lives to survive a warmer climate.
The transition to warmer climates will not stop any time soon, leave alone turning back the clock.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beebo Brink View Post
I'm curious if the last ten years has made any difference. Does Aimee -- or all the someones like her -- still view the "climate change package" as deserving of skepticism? Has there been a perceptible shift in a larger audience or are you and I (speaking directly to Cindy here) still outliers in our society?



Yes, Americans views on climate change have shifted


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Originally Posted by Beebo Brink View Post
it's pretty clear than no one is interested in making the kind of disruptive changes that would lower our greenhouse emissions in sufficient quantities to save our collective asses.

On this point, I have to respectfully disagree. For example, the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report (large pdf) shows many encouraging trends. For example, wind and solar have been growing exponentially (page 41):
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Climate change discussion: ten year review-renewable-power-capacity.png  

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Old 08-11-2018, 02:46 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I came across an interesting academic paper, The Ideology of Climate Change Denial in the United States, in which the author considers possible reasons why climate change denialism carries so much weight in the USA.

He suggests that, in addition to the obvious fact people with an obvious interest in promoting denialism can throw vast amounts of money at venal politicians, the idea that human activity promotes global warming runs directly contrary to two widespread and possibly unacknowledged assumptions in US thought -- first, that an ever increasing standard of living from generation to generation is both achievable and desirable and also that individual choice is preferable to government regulation.

Accepting that global warming and its consequences are real and that to stand any chance of reversing a potentially catastrophic trend people need to accept that continuing economic growth is neither possible nor desirable and that the government needs to restrict people's activities to prevent the emission of greenhouse gasses. Both of these concepts, he suggests, are particularly hard to sell in the US.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Climate changes are as old as the world.
How much (what percentage) we influence that with our pollution is questionable.
At the risk of derailing Beebo's thread into climate change polemics, I think there are basic flaws in your arguments.

1. CO2 levels have NEVER been as high as they are today. Much of that has been absorbed by the oceans, reducing their ability to act as a heat sink for further increases:



Furthermore, temperature trends over the last 140 years are decidedly UP.



Going back further, you'd need to go back 5 million years before present to find global average temperatures equal to or exceeding the present:



2. As for what percentage we influence earth climate, it's become the concensus among climate scientists that our contribution is at or near 100% now:

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis...-due-to-humans

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Quote:
Humans emissions and activities have caused around 100% of the warming observed since 1950, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment report.
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In its 2013 fifth assessment report, the IPCC stated in its summary for policymakers that it is “extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature” from 1951 to 2010 was caused by human activity. By “extremely likely”, it meant that there was between a 95% and 100% probability that more than half of modern warming was due to humans.

This somewhat convoluted statement has been often misinterpreted as implying that the human responsibility for modern warming lies somewhere between 50% and 100%. In fact, as NASA’s Dr Gavin Schmidt has pointed out, the IPCC’s implied best guess was that humans were responsible for around 110% of observed warming (ranging from 72% to 146%), with natural factors in isolation leading to a slight cooling over the past 50 years.

Similarly, the recent US fourth national climate assessment found that between 93% to 123% of observed 1951-2010 warming was due to human activities.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
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and that the government needs to restrict people's activities to prevent the emission of greenhouse gasses. Both of these concepts, he suggests, are particularly hard to sell in the US.

People may believe that, but it isn't actually true. CO2 emissions in the US have been falling in recent years without restricting activities. Since the mid-2000s, the main contributors to the decline are (a) a shift in electric production from 50 to 29% coal, in favor of natural gas (half the CO2) and wind/solar (no CO2), (b) general efficiency improvements across the economy. Industry has lowered emissions by 60%. Homes have replaced light bulbs, improved insulation, cars get better gas mileage, etc.


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Old 08-11-2018, 03:28 PM   #16 (permalink)
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wind/solar (no CO2),
Of course, our Interior Secretary opposes wind power because it "kills birds".

https://www.axios.com/fact-checking-...9e3fbe280.html

Quote:
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told thousands of mostly oil and natural gas executives at an energy conference here Tuesday that wind turbines kill as many as 750,000 birds a year, repeating a criticism made by other Trump administration officials.

The bottom line: Zinke is exaggerating the figure beyond virtually all published estimates. But more importantly, turbines are a drop in the bucket when it comes to the human-related causes of bird deaths, context Zinke didn't provide.
There's a graph there showing that cats are the leading cause of death among birds

If he's that worried about birds, he should outlaw cats. But we know he doesn't give a robin's fart about birds. It's just more administration pablum arguing against the environment.

Quote:
“The amount of installed wind energy has increased quite a bit in the last five years since those papers were published, so the actual mortality would be expected to scale up somewhat as well,” said Scott Loss, a professor at Oklahoma State University who tracks these issues. “Regardless of the estimate, wind turbines rank much lower than many other human-caused threats in terms of total birds killed.”
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:50 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beebo Brink View Post
I'm curious if the last ten years has made any difference. Does Aimee -- or all the someones like her -- still view the "climate change package" as deserving of skepticism? Has there been a perceptible shift in a larger audience or are you and I (speaking directly to Cindy here) still outliers in our society?
I wasn't part of SLU ten years ago, so I missed out on that. Ten years ago, I was kind of on the fence about climate change. Not that I thought it wasn't real, just that I didn't think it would affect us in our lifetimes. Today, I don't think climate change is something that is slowly coming our way. Today, I believe it's already here, and is going to get worse well within our lifetimes.

I'd like to think that we, as Americans, have finally opened our eyes to see what is going on around us here and now - the extended droughts, the devastating floods, the rampant wildfires, the extreme heat and the extreme cold. But, then again, I'd also like to think we wouldn't have put someone like Trump in the White House, and look how well that worked out. Truth is, we (America) have our heads so deep in the sand that it's going to be too late to do anything about it before we admit not only that it's happening, but also our role in driving it. If it's not too late already. And there is still a very large group of people out there who still deny that it's happening, and call anyone who brings it up libtards. As long as attitudes like that prevail, we're doomed.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We must stop to put all our efforts to try and stop/ reverse climate change.
Climate changes are as old as the world.
How much (what percentage) we influence that with our pollution is questionable.
Does that mean we can keep polluting? Heck no. We have to keep our planet as clean as possible.

I think we should put a lot more effort in adapting to the fact that the climate change is unstoppable. The earth has done it many times before and is doing it again.
We should be researching, planning and implementing how to survive this change, not how to reverse this.
Higher dykes where needed, other forms of agriculture, better flooding systems, cheaper fresh water production out of salt water, nifty cheap cooling systems, adapted housing, addapted lifestyles, etc. etc.

well, Sid, I dont agree with that...

Sure, there are serious studies which say, that some aspects of the climate change are irreversible.

But - not being an expert - I presume we can influence at least the degree of some aspects of the change. It will be a big difference whether (in our region of the world) we have to suffer for weeks from temperatures of 45 degrees C or only from 33 degrees.
At least this is the basis for all actions planned to influence and reduce the amount of the climate change (for example Paris Agreement)


One big problem is, that a lots of countries signed such agreements like this, but not all.
And even, if the whole world would take part it is considered of not being enough.
Another critic, I have read, is that factories with damaging emissions leave countries with good controlling for producing in countries where administration and government dont care much about the emissions.


And yes all these calculations of measures to reduce the change-effect are, as I understand ,very complex and the probabilty of the figures, that the aim is reached, is certanly not 100%, but they show the direction.


But ok, I agree.. preparations to moderate the consequences of the climate change (floods, dryness, etc) have also to be done.


And this is a world-wide task. Many have indicated, what a huge impact the climate-change has on migration (drought in Africa).
In our own interest, international organisations have to help here, espec Africa.. yes with money of the rich countries.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:30 PM   #19 (permalink)
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As I tried to say before: We have to do both.
And adapting is probably more important in the next decades.
I don't see the world give up their lifestyles and economic interests any time soon.
That will take a few major world wide catastrophes, wars or both before we'll hae the will to change that lifestyle significantly enough.


I mean, restriction of Internet, smart phones, car use, plane flights, shipments of goods, use of meat, food diversity, freedom to live and work where you want, restricted holidays and holiday destinations, restriction of personal energy resources, and, and, and.... good luck to make that all happen any time soon.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:44 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I don't see the world give up their lifestyles and economic interests any time soon.
That will take a few major world wide catastrophes, wars or both before we'll hae the will to change that lifestyle significantly enough.
I can see this. Further, I see that even if catastrophe happens, as we recover from it, we'll just return mostly back to our old ways. Take gas prices in America, for example: It took gas prices quadrupling in the US in the mid-2000s for there to be a measurable push away from gas-guzzling SUVs to more economical compact vehicles. But since then, gas prices have somewhat recovered, a new "normal" was established, and guess what most Americans are buying again? So much so that even Ford is discontinuing most of their compact sedans in favor of large SUVs. And around and around we go.

Bottom line: When crisis hits our wallets, we're more than ready to render lip-service to the problem, but when the crisis eases, we're right back to the old ways that precipitated the crisis to begin with. Any lessons learned in the process are too small to be really meaningful in a big way.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:07 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I recall reading an editorial in an automotive magazine. The editor hadn't believed when Al Gore spread the message but when an automotive CEO said the same thing, then he believed.
What I took from that, is many (most?) people aren't willing to exercise any critical thought on matters of science, but instead rely on messengers they believe.


I'd first come across global warming, as it was then called (and is still accurate when the Earth as a whole is considered) some 35 years ago. Over the next 10-15 years I learnt enough to fully appreciate the details.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:12 PM   #22 (permalink)
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CO2 emissions in the US have been falling in recent years without restricting activities.
My strong impression is that what we're doing is too little, too late to counterbalance the feedback loops set in motion. I won't be around long enough to see whether I'm right or wrong.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that 40 years from now anyone who remembers me can scoff at my pessimism. Good luck with that.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:18 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I skimmed through that thread and am struck by the civility there versus threads on the topic since.

I have a jumble of words in my head about this, Trumpism not born in a vacuum, Koch Bros, conspiracy theory nuts, but nothing forming into an actual sentence.
I am pretty sure that there is one reason and one reason alone that this country is the lone holdout in regard to climate change skepticism; money, particularly the pursuit of it by the rich and powerful who benefit monetarily by refusing to accept that climate change is real. Quite simply, they refuse to do anything that might alter the goal of money acquisition.

I can remember when it wasn't considered radical to embrace the scientific knowledge that we have learned about in regard to climate change. This would have been in the 80's; late 80's.

Since that time, those powerful interests have used their money to leverage the conversation, both in fake science in which they pay their "scientists" to condemn the majority consensus, and most notably, Fox News to alter public opinion.

What is so hard for me, personally, to understand is how and why majority old men who are already wealthy beyond their ability to spend it can have so little concern about their children, grandchildren's future.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:52 PM   #24 (permalink)
But it refused. <3

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Originally Posted by Jolene Benoir View Post
What is so hard for me, personally, to understand is how and why majority old men who are already wealthy beyond their ability to spend it can have so little concern about their children, grandchildren's future.
Some years ago I saw an episode of Dragon's Den, I think it was the British one, but that doesn't really matter.

One of the 'Dragons' played a bit of hardball to fuck over the other dragon who he would be working with. You could see this guy was just manic giddy with adrenaline from this I Will Come Out On Top rush. He got talked down from that pyrrhic victory in that the other dragon said, 'I don't know if I want to work with you now either, with what you just pulled.'

Testosterone is a hell of a drug.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:25 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I'd first come across global warming, as it was then called (and is still accurate when the Earth as a whole is considered) some 35 years ago.
Yeah, they ended up changing it because some people refuse (not "are too dumb", but very actively refuse) to understand the concept of "average global mean" and so every time they saw a snowflake they'd be all like IT SURE FEELS COLD TO ME SO MUCH FOR 'GLOBAL WARMING' HAW HAW CHECKMATE GODLESS SINEISTS
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