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Will climate change ever have its Sandy Hook moment?

It’s easy to bash America. Externally Americans are often characterised as loud, star-spangled, gun-toting, bible-bashing, right-wing extremists with Fox News continually on in the background and a gas-guzzling…

An eerie parallel exists between the gun control and climate change debates, involving statistics, “evidence” and entrenched positions. AAP

It’s easy to bash America.

Externally Americans are often characterised as loud, star-spangled, gun-toting, bible-bashing, right-wing extremists with Fox News continually on in the background and a gas-guzzling Hummer in the driveway.

And the problem is, that when all you ever see are US media reports, politicians, and movies, it is easy to think that’s all America is.

In reality America, like most other countries in the world, is full of people.

People a lot like us. When you meet them, many are very nice, share most of your political views and go about their day-to-day lives doing boring things.

So at this time of tragedy, when a mentally unstable, barely adult male goes into a school and kills 20 young children with a home-grown arsenal, it would be too easy to start lecturing the US about the benefits of Australia’s universal health care scheme, strict gun laws, and a conservative Prime Minister who raised taxes to buy back every assault rifle in the country after our own day of infamy, the Port Arthur massacre.

They don’t need it.

Instead they need our compassion.

Because if the loss of 20 innocent children and six adults can’t change America’s attitude and laws relating to guns, nothing we ever say or do will.

Poissonian Statistics

As an experimental scientist it is hard not to look at the ~300 million guns and ~30,000 gun-related deaths (many of which are suicides) each year in America and not instantly think that every gun has a 0.01% chance of killing someone every year. What we scientists like to call the “expectation value”.

Most guns just sit in cupboards, or get used responsibly, but on rare occasions, they are used in crimes, suicides, shooting accidents or fall into the hands of mentally unstable people who go on killing sprees.

So every gun is an independent test particle that is part of a massive social experiment. On average they kill 0.0001 people every year.

The number of guns, people, social conditions and laws of probability make large numbers of gun-related deaths in the US an inevitability.

Sure the number of deaths varies from year to year, but every weapon and owner is fairly independent of every other one, and so we just get Poisson (random) statistics occurring.

Whenever someone we know is shot, or a horrific mass murder takes place, it makes us think seriously about the issue. When some anonymous teenage kid in Chicago gets his head blown off, we shrug our shoulders and get back to our everyday lives.

Climate Change

There is an eerie parallel between the gun control and climate change debates. Both involve statistics, “evidence” and entrenched positions.

A single record-breaking summer heat wave or extreme hurricane can’t be unambiguously linked to climate change, but their frequency and intensity compared to the historical norm results in statistical arguments prone to interpretation by both sides of the climate change debate.

Proponents of gun control lecture about the inevitability of deaths when guns are easily available and climate change advocates point to the increased risk of extreme weather events in a heated world.

Unfortunately, the world’s climate is an extremely complex mixture of variables, one of which is the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide, or CO2. It results in temperature fluctuations from year to year and place to place.

Today, in Adelaide Australia, it is a beautiful 28 C (82 F), but two days before Christmas it was a very unpleasant 42 C (108 F) and unlike today, I couldn’t help but spend a lot of the day thinking about the world’s CO2 levels.

But it is bad science to take isolated events, like our sweltering late December day, and immediately equate cause (global CO2) and effect (our recent 42C day). In fact, in January 1908 Adelaide had a couple of terrible heat waves that were only eclipsed in 2008, and CO2 was much lower back then.

So on nice days I go about my daily business, driving around my car and planning my next overseas trips and during heat waves I look into solar panels, the cost of hybrid cars and asking myself if a Pro Vice Chancellor has to travel so much?

Like the chance of an individual gun killing someone on any given day, a city’s temperature is unlikely to break any records, so most of the time climate change is out of our minds.

If someone wants to keep their gun, or fly around the world using jet fuel, there are plenty of arguments they can trot out in their defence.

The Sandy Hook massacre was so dreadful that it is likely to permanently change the US’s attitude to gun control that will ultimately save thousands of lives.

Climate change is unlikely to be so lucky.

An individual drought, hurricane or heat wave may affect an individual’s attitude to climate change, but I wonder what climatic event it would take to have the same national impact on policy as the massacre of innocents?

Join the conversation

89 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Kim Peart

    Researcher & Writer

    Your Sandy Hook moment in climate change, Matthew, may be with ocean acidification, when algal blooms in dying seas release toxic hydrogen sulphide gas that can kill life on land and destroy the ozone layer.

    We know the cause of the carbon crisis is burning all that fossil fuel.

    We know that our CO2 emissions are going up and up and not being turned.

    We know that the fast warming Arctic is in the process of releasing a whole lot more CO2 and methane, which will further heat up the planet…

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  2. Michael Brown

    Professional, academic, company director

    The world’s climate certainly is "influenced by an extremely complex mixture of variables" - Ian Plimer wrote a whole book called Heaven + Earth outlining many of them, and pointing out that most of them are poorly understood. That's why computer models of climate are a work in progress.

    Here are some long term temperature data statistics from the UK showing just how variable such measurements are:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/graphs/HadCET_act_graphEX.gif
    The only constant in climate is variability.

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    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Heaven and Earth has been debunked many times. For examples see http://tbp.mattandrews.id.au/2009/06/06/debunking-plimer-heaven-and-earth/

      A logical fallacy is to assume some uncertainty corresponds to complete uncertainty.

      Another common logical fallacy is temperature changes can be caused by natural variability so all temperature changes are caused by natural variability.

      A similar logical fallacy in the gun debate is gun laws impact crime rates so all changes in crime rates are caused by gun laws. A related logical fallacy is gun crime can decrease for reasons other than gun laws, so gun laws cannot cause gun crime to decrease.

      I am curious to know what my namesake's profession, academic field and company are. His CV sounds impressive but extremely vague.

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    2. Kim Peart

      Researcher & Writer

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Miachael Brown ~

      Why worry about models, when basic facts are on the table to examine from every angle?

      For instance, during the last ice age carbon dioxide (CO2) was at around 180 parts per million (ppm) and the planet was in the freezer.

      Then the planet changed to the climate of the past 10,000 years, when human civilization emerged and atmospheric CO2 rose to around 280 ppm.

      Now, with CO2 at 400 ppm, will the planet remain at the temperature range of the past 10,000 years?

      With…

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    3. Leslie Graham

      none

      In reply to Michael Brown

      The basics are just that - basic.
      We've known for over a century that adding CO2 to the atmosphere raises the Earth's temperature.
      It happens every single time CO2 rises. Always has for millions of years - always will.
      We've now raised it by 40%.
      That's it.
      It isn't rocket science.
      Everything else is just re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

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    4. Leslie Graham

      none

      In reply to Michael Brown

      And that you are seriously quoting Ian Plimer is just laughable.

      Just for one classic of his - he once claimed that a single volcanic eruption releases more CO2 than humans do in a year.
      Yep - I'm not making this up.
      And yet you actualy think he is worthy of citing?

      And then you wonder why deniers are treated with contempt by the educated?

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    5. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Michael Brown

      How strange that "Michael Brown", the professional without a profession, the academic without a field and the company director without a company hasn't responded.

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  3. Comment removed by moderator.

  4. Oksanna Zoschenko

    logged in via Twitter

    But we do not have to wait at all. Climate Change's Sandy Hook moment is here right now.

    Did someone as eminent as a Pro Vice Chancellor ever stop to think of all the innocents that are effectively being deprived of clean drinking water and housing and health, by the billions being wasted on nothing, that is, on share market products based on the non-existence of a tasteless, colourless trace gas? When there has been no discernible increase in warming for the past 15 years according to three of the four key datasets?

    This is an unstoppable industry, with academics and bankers alike dependent upon the longevity of what is essentially a myth - that man has dangerously changed our weather. The victims are the rest of us, the CO2 tax-paying public, and the poor of the third world, deprived of essential aid which has been wasted on a money-go-round for the white-coats and grey-suits.

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    1. Matthew Bailes

      Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) at Swinburne University of Technology

      In reply to Oksanna Zoschenko

      Actually I think the scale of the carbon taxes and green energy measures is rather pathetic and probably having little impact on the innocents being deprived of clean water and health compared to what is spent annually on defence.

      Taxes be they on Carbon, Pokies or plasma TVs all end up in the government, who do things like build roads and hospitals with them, or provide higher education institutions.

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    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Oksanna Zoschenko

      If there has been no discernible warming in the last 15 years what pixie dust do you think is responsible for the disappearance of a large proportion of the earth's ice mass? Or the rise in sea levels? Or the increase in climate related disasters?

      http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/piomas1.gif
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/Arctic_models_obs.gif
      http://www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/glaciermasstrend1980-2010.gif
      http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/pics/1012_arctic_antarctic_anoms_smooth_560.png

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    3. Leslie Graham

      none

      In reply to Oksanna Zoschenko

      "...being wasted on nothing, that is, on share market products based on the non-existence of a tasteless, colourless trace gas? When there has been no discernible increase in warming for the past 15 years according to three of the four key datasets? .."

      Oh please.
      Save this parrotted denierblog nonsense for the Daily Mail if you really must spew garbage in public.
      You are just embarrassing.
      There is NO 'debate' about AGW. That was thirty or forty years ago. Temperatures are still rising - especialy in the oceans. Every sinlge data set we have shows continued warming and no amount of cherry-picking super El Nino years and juggling figures will change that, Just stop lying can't you. It's over.You've been busted. No-one is listening to that little percentage of deluded Americans and their fellow old white anglo-saxons who can't face reality.
      If you can't be part of the solution at least have the decency to stop insulting our intelligence and just get out of the ****ing way.

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    4. Oksanna Zoschenko

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Oksanna Zoschenko

      - The World Bank Carbon Market Report for 2012 describes a world carbon market of $176 billion, growing at 11% a year.
      - The cost to provide clean drinking water to half the 1.1 billion people who need it is between $10 and $30 billion a year.
      - Every 8 seconds somewhere in the world a child dies from a water-borne disease.
      So maybe there's our 'moment'.

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    5. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Oksanna Zoschenko

      Oksanna I think if you looked you would find that the industry - hopefully not unstoppable - behind the climate deniers is fossil fuels. They have much to lose, but with their shortsightedness - nothing to gain.

      Not much point in commenting on your denialist lack of understanding.

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  5. John Coochey

    Mr

    Well at least no idiot has drawn a parallel with Australia claiming that the gun buy back of 96 has reduced firearm related deaths. The number of firearms and owners is now greater than before 96 but deaths are lower having declined at the same rate as before the buy back. There was even an article in the Canberra Times today claiming that handguns had been virtually banned in 96, not true as hundreds of thousands of pistol shooters could testify. While not true of all shootings the most recent tragedy…

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    1. Matthew Bailes

      Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) at Swinburne University of Technology

      In reply to John Coochey

      John, if you are anti gun control, you draw a line through graphs of deaths per year before and after Pt Arthur and *extrapolate* and say the legislation had no effect. If you are pro gun control you say that there haven't been any mass murders since 1996 but many beforehand. Sounds a lot like the climate change debate to me.

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    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to John Coochey

      There has been a pretty amazing fall in firearm homicide and suicide in Australia over the past two decades (see links below). My understanding is the fall (in percentage terms) is not matched by any other western democracies.

      It would be a suprise if the laws introduced in the 1990s had no impact at all. Key factors in the gun laws are licensing, storage and what weapons people can own and why. A nice introduction is provided at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Australia which links to original materials.

      http://guncontrol.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/1995-2006-1.png
      http://guncontrol.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/1995-2006-2.png

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  6. Trevor S

    Jack of all Trades

    "As an experimental scientist it is hard not to look at the ~300 million guns and ~30,000 gun-related deaths (many of which are suicides) each year in America and not instantly think that every gun has a 0.01% chance of killing someone every year. What we scientists like to call the “expectation value”."

    You "guys" are really that loose with stats, one assumes Pollies are using stats duplicitously but surely not here? No wonder the anti AGW guys have an arsenal (pun intended) to argue against…

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    1. Matthew Bailes

      Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) at Swinburne University of Technology

      In reply to Trevor S

      Trevor - the number of guns in the US is not accurately defined, although the number of gun-related deaths is more certain. In science when we don't know something, we tend to admit it - with something like the "~" sign.

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  7. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    A Prius, Matthew! And when did Toyota branch out into vibrators?

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  8. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    I'm taking odds on how long it will be before a certain Mr Dean (aka Denier Dean) raises his tired old chestnut about Jet Fuel in response to Matthew's article?

    Any takers?? :)

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  9. Sylvia Robinson

    Archaeologist

    I was thinking only this morning how the Labor home insulation scheme was such a good initiative for reducing electricity consumption, and how it got completely dumped on by the media and opposition. Nobody said anything good about it, but it was a way to decrease carbon consumption cheaply, even if only a bit. I can't imagine the coalition having any sort of ideas like that. They don't think climate change is even an area to develop policy.

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  10. John Coochey

    Mr

    Ah Mike Harrigan can now tell us how you get killed by a gun that does not exist. If I threatened to shoot someone I would be locked up to protect society, if I threatened to shoot someone with a gun which had actually been destroyed some years previously I would be locked up to protect myself, but Andrew Leigh an Labor MP and Simon Chapman, I highly paid academic, have published papers which assume this is possible. Strange!

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Coochey

      It would appear Mr Coochey that your ability to read names is on a par with your ability to post in the right thread - alongside your ability to comprehend and deal with evidence - which is to say zero.

      How do you manage to do this so consistently?

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    2. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to John Coochey

      Now if Mr Harrigan would like to address the issue and answer the question?

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    3. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Coochey

      Mr Coochey still can't get it right - either about names or the evidence. The Data is clear - try reading it.

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    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Coochey

      @ John Phillip - Goldberg's article that you link to is essentially evidence free -apart from anecdotes.

      He argues that because there are already so many guns in America it is futile to try and reduce them - this is despite the evidence that has been posted here and numerous other places that establishes unequivocally that the incidience of gun availability and lack of gun control is directly related to increased deaths

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/

      But even Mr Goldberg advocates for more control (see his point 2)

      http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/12/what-can-we-do-to-stop-massacres/266300/

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    5. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to John Coochey

      John, another paper that is also interesting is below. I have included a quote from the conclusion. Cheers
      http://johnrlott.tripod.com/Australia_Gun_Buyback_EI.pdf
      “This paper takes a closer look at the effects of the National Firearms Agreement on gun deaths. Using a battery of structural break tests, there is little evidence to suggest that it had any significant effects on firearm homicides and suicides. In addition, there also does not appear to be any substitution effects – that reduced access to firearms may have led those bent on committing homicide or suicide to use alternative methods.”

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    6. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Coochey

      @ John Phillip

      What a load of rubbish. The Lee and Suardi paper you reference is published in a low ranked journal (Impact factor 0.523) and it's own data tables don;t support it's conclusions (I note it only looks at data to 2004, despite being published in 2010, probably because that data would further undermine it's rubbish conslusions)

      Look at the table on Page 78. Firearm Suicides dropped 20% faster in the 8 years following 96 compared to the 8 years preceeding and Firearm Homicides dropped…

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  11. Comment removed by moderator.

  12. John C Smith

    Auditor

    Sorry looks like lightning has struck without clouds or thunder.

    My son says one day computers will replace humans and they have silicon chips.So there you go Silicon replacing Carbon.
    If the Carbon is the culprit and CO2 in the clouds up there I think human life will start in the clouds. Isnt it thatb we beleive in; gods and heaven up there with the Angels.

    After all dont worry about the Climate change, if it does we will get used to it. we can raise our cows in Antartica and Greenlands and dive into the Pacific Islands looking for any Australian dollars left over.

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  13. John C Smith

    Auditor

    What a catchy combination, gun control and climate control. Should it be right to bear arms and right to burn coal.I have been usng Stae electricity and gas. Since then origin, e, true, red agl, etc etc but my bills have gone through the roof. I mean through the asbestos ceiling, free feets of insulation and then through the rusty tin roof. The other day a chinese touristb wanted to buy my tin roof. He said he got a lot of cheap coal without carbon in it (I thjink he meant without carbon tax) from Australia. I was lucky my neighbours have plunged themselves in to the Asian century and they acted as translators.

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    1. Kim Peart

      Researcher & Writer

      In reply to John C Smith

      John C Smith ~

      Like any element of life, carbon can also become a poison, when as CO2 it makes the oceans more acidic, along with a number of other crimes against Nature.

      Kim Peart

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  14. CJ

    logged in via Twitter

    Article should be renamed "Will AGW Alarmists Ever Have It's Sandy Hook Moment?" Given the fact even the IPCC is now documenting the fact their scary AGW Warmest predictions DO NOT coincide with their own AGW models. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/30/ar5-chapter-11-hiding-the-decline-part-ii/ The truth is AGW scare mongering has resulted in billions of dollars being funneled to the elites in the green mafia ( green tax payer subsidized solar & wind crony capitalists, Gov. Grants to Academia, Gov. Bureaucrats etc) instead of helping the poor where the money would do the most good. One might say a reverse Robin Hood Theology where the Green Mafia Elites Use their bogus belief in CAGW to take food out of the mouths of poor people to fund their phony pursuit of stopping non existent AGW.

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to CJ

      Nothing like referencing Anthony Watts to eliminate any validity or rationality your comment was meant to have.

      I don't know if you have realised this at all, but climate research was happening and would have continued to happen regardless of the fact of AGW. Show me a rich scientist, just one, one that has gotten rich from doing research, because there aren't any (unless they have been paid to say something by a group with lots of money like say Heartland, or Exxon...).

      Now as to "billions of dollars funneled into green mafia", wow, just wow. The total spending on all renewables in a development phase is still less than the annual subsidies and grants that are given to oil, gas, coal and other greenhouse gas sources. If we compare renewables all time spending to a comparable time period for fossil fuels, the spend it an order of magnitude higher for fossil fuels.

      So stop with this misguided and uninformed blather of climate change denial.

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  15. Gil Hardwick

    anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

    The US may well need my compassion but they're not going to get it.

    Anyone either sufficiently careless or stupid enough to continually elect idiots to the White House, or to realise there is something fundamentally wrong with their political system and vote accordingly, will finally reap the inevitable result.

    It's just internal gun control, ye think?

    Not.

    The US wiped out whole Pacific islands with their nuclear tests, thinking nobody would notice, as the Brits did the same thing in…

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  16. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    Is it just me, or is there any body else out there who finds the turn of phrase "the sandy hook moment" a little crass?

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  17. Kaj Embrén

    Vice President at Respect

    Take the changes in attitude in the U.S. since superstorm Sandy, or the numerous instances of brave Mayors who have taken many wise local decisions despite the opposition from the Senate and the Congress at the national level, or, as I read in a recent article by Elizabeth Kolbert, in The New Yorker, about the positive perception of carbon dioxide tax by Republicans, Democrats and industry leaders.

    But these hopes are tempered by Obama’s announcement that a proposal on carbon tax will never be…

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    1. Kim Peart

      Researcher & Writer

      In reply to Kaj Embrén

      Kaj Embrén ~

      I agree with you Kaj, but how to achieve the objective of winning back a safe Earth?

      Would you argue that the Earth is safe and the carbon crisis is not going to get a hell of a lot worse, or that our increasingly unsustainable presence will be OK, or that the environmental impacts on economies will not drag civilization down into the carbon sludge?

      Since we saw the Earth rising above the Moon in 1968 and the 'Limits to Growth' was published in 1972, conservationists have sought…

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  18. cosmoscon

    logged in via Twitter

    It's interesting that the Author mentioned Chicago. Handguns are illegal in that city but yet there have been over 500 gun deaths in that city this year.

    It figures that someone who buys into the AGW cult message would get emotional and not care to look at the causality (or lack thereof) of gun laws to gun murders in the US. Notice how almost all mass murders happen in "gun free zones?"

    And comparing AGW lies to Sandy Hook is awful.

    Leftists are ruled by emotion and that explains many in the gun grabber group. I would hope that someone who claims to be a scientist would be above this but alas....

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    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to cosmoscon

      One oddity that is rarely explained by gun advocates is why does America have higher gun violence that other western democracies which have fewer guns per person.

      One issue with gun bans in particular cities is they are less effective than laws that apply across entire countries. It is relatively easy to import a gun into Chicago from another part of the US with less restrictions.

      That said http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/ provides some interesting stats on guns, gun laws and their impact within the USA. It indicates that deaths per capita are correlated with gun laws, with tighter laws producing fewer deaths.

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  19. Peter Hewson

    Citizen

    I doubt that much will change with respect to US gun policy that will make a meaningful difference. That horse has long ago bolted at the sound of gunfire (mainly hand guns).

    However I take your tenuous point with respect to the link to gun culture and attitudes to climate change.

    I leave my criticism to the Editor.

    The headline is up there in tackyness with Alexander Downer's 'The Things That Batter' comment. We can do better than to treat the deaths of many infant children as a 'moment'.

    I appreciate that thoughtfullness and dignity are no longer qualities that academia are known for but lets leave those sorts of headers to Downer and Fox news.

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Peter Hewson

      Peter, I can't help but agree with your comments here. I also agree with those that note the poor judgement in the article title. Despite the triggering reactive replies to replies about CC, the original article says nothing. Meaningless waffle that adds nothing to anything about either subject. Would the word "vacuous" be too harsh? Light entertainment masquerading as academia? Some folks just like to see their name up in lights when they are bored by the absence of personal attention in their regular role over the University holiday period. This may be one of those occasions. I don't know for sure of course, but for sure I know someone does. The Conversation should not confuse the # of responses to an article as a yardstick for quality or value.

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  20. Andrew Glikson

    Earth and paleo-climate scientist

    Comparing gun control to climate is incorrect, because:

    1. Guns and gun-control are local/national issues, which vary across different countries in diferent parts of the world

    2. By contrast climate change is a global process consistent with the basic laws of physics and chemistry.

    The author writes:

    "Unfortunately, the world’s climate is an extremely complex mixture of variables, one of which is the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide, or CO2. It results in temperature fluctuations…

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    1. Matthew Bailes

      Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) at Swinburne University of Technology

      In reply to Andrew Glikson

      Actually Andrew, I'm acutely aware of the rising CO2 levels. (See my previous articles in the conversation about the issue, in one I even plot the CO2 level as a function of time - which I find quite terrifying). The article was not about the science behind global warming, but the attitudes people bring to the evidence when it is presented to them. I think that articles about warming and the scientific evidence for it (which I believe is fairly overwhelming) are best left to experts in the field. What puzzles and perplexes me is the level of vitriol and entrenched attitudes the issue raises, and how things as seemingly independent as guns and CO2 are so correlated. I've had conversations with people in Arizona about guns that remind me of trying to convince a global warming sceptic that there is no conspiracy.

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  21. Chris Sanderson

    CEO


    John Cook, who does the 'Sceptical Science' blog, has just posted this YouTube 5min clip of Naomi Oreskes deconstructing Nick Minchin's climate denial. Minchin, being our political arch villain in terms of making his career one of helping the corporate vested interests to spread doubt, not only about Climate Change Science, but also about the science that showed tobacco causes cancer.

    One day I hope such people, who betray our trust in govt, get taken to The Hague by their children's generation…

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    1. Kim Peart

      Researcher & Writer

      In reply to Chris Sanderson

      Chris Sanderson ~

      The problem is not climate change denial.

      The problem is a lack of vision for an alternative future.

      This total lack of vision is demonstrated in the world we have created.

      By failing to run with a vision that would have kept a safe Earth, we gave licence to the carbon energy industries to create the world we have.

      Why should denialists listen to scientists who have failed us so completely?

      Only with a vision that will assure a safe Earth, can we hope to inspire a momentum of action that will win back a safe planet.

      The carbon crisis is now getting rather serious, with a fast warming Arctic set to take over driving our way into catastrophe.

      Are we capable of imagining the solution to this crisis?

      If we continue with the thinking that created this crisis, we cannot hope to inspire action that will win a safe Earth.

      I hope we will get inspired.

      Kim Peart
      http://www.islandearth.com.au/

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  22. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    "In reality America, like most other countries in the world, is full of people."
    Phew, that's sorted then.

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Cutting edge commentary indeed. We're all the wiser for it no doubt. <smile> But given the statement suggests that it is only MOST countries that are full of people, I'm anxious to discover the FEW countries that are not "full of people" . Unless it was an nuanced perspective of variations in population density, which it wasn't. The essential misinformation about America starts early when the authors states "America .... is full of people. People a lot like us." It is not!

      The very beginning…

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  23. David Leigh

    logged in via Facebook

    It's an interesting parallel Matthew and very true. I have just had a twitter conversation with an economics professor in London and he believes that changing corporate business models to profit from sustainable trading is the only way to change the mind set of the masses and I agree. goo.gl/a9PZc We have seen what corporate identity can do for soft drinks, tobacco and the like. People follow identity with fashionable lust. Rather than a Sandy Hook Moment, we could have a "Coke" moment and use social…

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to David Leigh

      RE: "... he believes that changing corporate business models to profit from sustainable trading is the only way to change the mind set of the masses and I agree." I totally disagree. Why? Because it only comes out of the typical "mind set" of economists educated and emotionally influenced by the "corporate business model" system founded upon irrational and fallacious beliefs. By allegory, no amount of negotiating with the "Devil" would cause him to change his essential NATURE.

      What's required…

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    2. Kim Peart

      Researcher & Writer

      In reply to David Leigh

      David Leigh ~

      An excellent proposal.

      The solution to the carbon crisis needs to be an inspiring vision that a large enough number of people will own and act on, to turn the tide back toward a safe Earth.

      I hope we have enough time for the vision to happen.

      Kim Peart
      http://www.islandearth.com.au/

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  24. CJ

    logged in via Twitter

    BREAKING NEWS!!! The IPCC comes clean. Their scary Global Warming predictions are bunk. IPCC predictions DO NOT coincide with their own AGW models. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/30/ar5-chapter-11-hiding-the-decline-part-ii/ Will this be AGW Alarmists Sandy Hook Moment? Billions of dollars wasted on the phony pursuit of trying to stop AGW that could have been spent saving the lives of millions of people. One might say a reverse Robin Hood Theology where the Green Mafia Elites Use their bogus belief in CAGW to take food out of the mouths of poor people to fund their phony pursuit of stopping non existent AGW.

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to CJ

      So why would the latest IPCC report contradict these studies when its purpose is to summarize the latest and greatest scientific research? The answer is simple — it doesn't.
      Rawls has completely misrepresented the IPCC report.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-draft-leak-global-warming-not-solar.html

      Contrary to Contrarian Claims, IPCC Temperature Projections Have Been Exceptionally Accurate
      Posted on 27 December 2012
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/contary-to-contrarians-ipcc-temp-projections-accurate.html

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    2. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to CJ

      Right on CJ. What they are predicting is global warming without the warming. The IPCC is even running away from the extreme disaster theory promoted by Mark Harrigan .
      http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/handy-bullshit-button-on-disasters-and.html

      The new year will be fascinating as the 16th year with no warming (even with the fiddling of the temperature record) and it will be interesting to see all the AGW catastrophists wriggling to explain it.
      You will also notice that all the true believers who bleated about the Russian heat wave last year are deadly silent about the record cold in that country.
      http://www.livescience.com/25737-russia-cold-snap.html

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    3. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to CJ

      When Mr Gibson understands what warming is he might have a leg to stand on.

      Sean has ably debunked the ridiculous post from CJ - but then anyone who relies on WUWT for their climate information is bound to say ridiculous things.

      Neil, warming is when there is more heat in the planetary system - of which global atmospheric temperature is but one measure.

      I realise you are in cinstant denial of the evidence - but it is clear - increased heat in the pnaetary system leads to risign sea levels…

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    4. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to CJ

      Referencing Anthony Watts and Roger Pielke Jr should be an immediate fail in science and a removal of credibility.

      Anyone who can directly quote an international science report and conclude the exact opposite of what it says needs to go back to primary school for reading comprehension classes, not be lauded by climate change denial pundits and zealots.

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    5. Kim Peart

      Researcher & Writer

      In reply to CJ

      Chris O'Neill ~

      In the new year that is now upon us ~

      The shameless lie is ignoring the details that our Sun is now 25 percent hotter than at the dawn of life 3.5 billion years ago and will continue to increase in heat and size over the next 5 billion year, until expanding to the orbit of the Earth as a red giant.

      Don't tell me about global warming ~ astronomers get their first.

      Should we ignore such basic facts?

      In the last ice age when the planet was in the freezer, CO2 hovered…

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  25. Nat Jones

    Translator

    Sandy Hook moment for climate change? It'd have to be something like rising sea levels causing the Statue of Liberty to topple over unexpectedly, or a huge tornado taking out the White House. It would have to be something deeply shocking to Americans and also very sudden and unforeseen. So no, not very likely at all...

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  26. David Leigh

    logged in via Facebook

    Phew! Sean… what a rant. I also believe in the power of the masses and today, using the very tool we are writing on now, the masses actually get to speak to each other and possibly, just possibly, make decisions. The universal common sense sounds very Nietzsche; we are all islands joined on the seabed and are therefore of one common source, or bond. Nobody is saying the masses are unthinking or uncaring. The real facts are that certain human animals thrive on power - is that another Nietzsche concept…

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to David Leigh

      David .. "Now I’m ranting." Not as much as myself, to rant is my forte! Thx for the comments, well put. I should have mentioned specifically that your suggestion is a step in the right direction, and a good one. I liked Paul Gildings take on things too, which I believe mirror many of your and my ideas. http://paulgilding.com/the-great-disruption

      "To rant to not to rant, that is the question!" Given these extraordinary times, I lean to the former. <G>

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  27. cosmoscon

    logged in via Twitter

    @ Michael J I Brown regarding - "That said http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/ provides some interesting stats on guns, gun laws and their impact within the USA. It indicates that deaths per capita are correlated with gun laws, with tighter laws producing fewer deaths. "

    If you look at #5 on the link you provided you'll see your last phrase isn't true. As the assault weapon ban law ended in 2004, assault deaths continued to track down.

    Also, Connecticut has the 5th toughest gun laws of all 50 US states.

    Also, look at what happened in England. --> http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323777204578195470446855466.html

    This seems to point to an negative correlation between tight gun laws and gun deaths.

    What am I missing?

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    1. In reply to cosmoscon

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to cosmoscon

      If gun laws and gun access don't influence gun violence, why does the US have a much higher rate of gun violence than other western democracies? This higher rate of gun violence is clearly shown in point 5 at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/

      The assault gun "ban" in the US had grandfathering clauses and many exemptions, in contrast to bans in many other countries. More robust gun laws with buyback schemes…

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    3. Linus Bowden

      management consultant

      In reply to cosmoscon

      Michael, why the "western democracies" hand-waving? There are a whole lot of other appropriate comparisons. For example, how does the US rank overall in gun violence/deaths versus ownership? Are there are any demographic/political/cultural similarities between the US and similarly ranked deaths/ownership societies?

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    4. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to cosmoscon

      Linus, I went for "western democracies" to mitigate some issues such as poverty and system of government. I've seen people comparing gun deaths in the northen USA with northern Mexico, which is an absurd comparison given the poverty and drug trade in northern Mexico.

      Obviously one could dig into the data further to find better comparisons, but one needs to take care to not "cherry pick" data to meet personal biases.

      That said, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/ does compare gun deaths per capita in the USA with other OECD countries.

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  28. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    ‘It’s easy to bash America.’

    It is in fact damned difficult not to! A failed state, with a failed financial system that has intervened with the intention of deposing a legitimate government in 56 countries from the end of WWII until 2003.
    (William Blum: ‘Killing Hope’)

    Note that the only regimes ‘safe’ from such attention are dictators, the only ones who are extreme right enough to satisfy the US’s definition of ‘democracy’.

    Failed financially? The internal debt will never be repaid…

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  29. Leo Kerr

    Consultant

    Four sets of criminal gangs now run the US - the Financial Sector, Military Industrial Complex, Energy Sector & the Pharmaceutical Industry. They all spend big, corrupting politicians and the political process for their own ends to the point that the US far from being the beacon of moral light in the world (or even a democracy) is now captive to an extended group of fabulously wealthy criminal corporates. Their short term greed prevents them realising they are sowing the seeds of their own downfall (along with the other 99% of us). When was the last time a criminal empire started thinking in terms of societal benefit - a Sandy Hook moment - fat chance...........

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  30. Chris O'Neill

    Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

    "I wonder what climatic event it would take to have the same national impact on policy as the massacre of innocents?"

    One event not too many years away that could have this impact is the disappearance of sea ice at the North Pole and ordinary boats sailing to it. This will probably happen before 2020.

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  31. Russell Walton
    Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired

    Most climate change "scepticism" is probably the result of the old corporate game of forcing the taxpayers to pay the bill for the costs of the externalities of production. Industrialists have professed "scepticism"and resorted to cynical spin when presented with evidence of the lethal effects of tobacco, asbestos, heavy metals etc.

    When enough smart capital is aggregated in "renewable" industries, climate change "scepticism" will fade into the sunset.

    America's bizarre gun laws are really America's business, unlike predator drones which kill other people's children.

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  32. Phil Dolan

    Viticulturist

    'That's left to the completely inexpert/non-scholarly girls in the publicity department.'

    Happy New Year Linus Bowden for 1953.

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  33. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    Michael J. I. Brown”

    ‘There has been a pretty amazing fall in firearm homicide and suicide in Australia over the past two decades (see links below).’

    I would look a lot further than guncontrol.org.au figures before drawing any assumptions.

    Have you looked at drive by shootings, in Sydney regular enough that they are no longer newsworthy, or at police shootings of ‘suspects’?

    There has certainly been a substantial drop in legal gun ownership, but the criminal, or would be criminal element seems to be more generally armed than was the case some years ago.

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    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Surely the most important stats are firearms deaths, which is what the laws were intended to address?

      Peter has provided anecdotal evidence but not backed it up with hard numbers. For example, have police shootings of suspects around Australian increased or decreased over recent decades? Does Peter have hard numbers for the estimated number of illegal guns and how often they are used?

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  34. Andrew Glikson

    Earth and paleo-climate scientist

    Matthew

    In response to your comment, I was mainly referring to your statement "But it is bad science to take isolated events ... etc".

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  35. John Coochey

    Mr

    Just to get the facts straight on Australian gun ownership both the number of firearms and owners has increased since 96 but gun related deaths have continued to decline at the same rate as before. And once again you cannot be killed by a firearm which no longer exists, the length of time since its destruction is irrelevant, also there have been no massacres in New Zealand since 96 either.

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  36. Ivan Quail

    maverick

    Kim Peart "Are we capable of imagining the solution"

    The tides of the Kimberly can generate 10 times more electricity than we currently generate nationally and that power can be transmitted to the far corners of Australia for 1c per Kw hr. Power could be generated 24 hrs a day 7 days a week at a lower overall cost than Solar and most other renewable energy sources.

    As for the rest of the world. Indonesia has 29 active volcanoes including the Super volcano Toba.
    Japan has 108 active volcanoes.The Us has dozens. They all have more heat with which to generate power than they need.

    The debate needs to move on to solutions.

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  37. Jennifer Kent

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Well actually I believe we've already had a "Sandy Hook moment" on climate change in 2006 and that there is the potential for this to reoccur. A lot of things coalesced in that year, for example: Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth woke a global public to the severe threat of climate change (Neilsen & Environmental Change Institute 2007); the publication of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change; it was the year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans; and there was a severe…

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  38. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    Michael J. I. Brown

    ‘Surely the most important stats are firearms deaths, which is what the laws were intended to address?’

    How many people are running around with guns, gun related robberies and drive by shooting where houses are shot up, but quite often nobody is injured, are surely as important.

    No, I don’t have actual figures. Having been better than competent with pistols, shotgun and light rifles when I was young, I take a passing interest. Having been trained in self defence…

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    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      All of Peter's evidence is anecdotal and doesn't tell us anything meaningful about how crimes are actually changing in response to gun laws.

      I have similar anecdotes, including confronting criminals in Australia and being at a hotel in the US while a shootout took place in the carpark. They may be interesting anecdotes to chat about at a BBQ but they don't tell us how levels of crime respond to particular laws.

      Hard numbers provide better information on what is actually going on.

      PS: The message starting each discussion has a reply button, and using it makes particular discussions easier to follow.

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