Stephen Schneider on Bill Maher on storms, climate change, and what scientists talk about when drunk

September 2, 2008 at 8:01 am | Posted in Climate change, Environment, Global warming | 4 Comments
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Waiting patiently for Stanford University Office of Science Outreach to post Stephen Schneider’s lecture, Global Warming: Is the Science Settled Enough for Policy? of 24 July 2008, on YouTube or iTunes, I came across another Schneider appearance.  It’s in an old (date?  well, post-Katrina) TV clip uploaded to YouTube last week:

Now, at least, my kids can see Steve Schneider does ‘look like a real professor’ 😉



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  1. Will science ever matter in US public policy? Sometimes the US political atmosphere feels like Nazi Germany. The hype, the hyperbole and the outright lies attract so much more attention than any reasonable examination of reality.

    Why are comedians like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart interviewing scientists, instead of our “journalists”?


  2. Hello Payam,
    Good to hear from you again. I share your frustration with the lack of (use of) knowledge provided by science, and the lack of respect for scientists, demonstrated by top influencers and key decision makers in the current US administration.
    Looking on the bright side, when serious topics (such as climate change) are covered by comedians, more people may be persuaded more effectively than they may be by tame documentaries or traditional lectures. The power of entertainment … (uh-oh)
    I am still hoping to post the two climate-related lectures I attended at Stanford during August, one of which was given by Steve Schneider. The good news is that YouTube facilitates the preservation and propagation of good stuff as well as bad!
    P.S. did you see what happened to Amy Goodman? She is a journalist, clearly identified as press, and was arrested last night at the Republican National Convention. Yes, in America. What is going on?

  3. P.P.S. Typical of the WSJ, today:

    Scientists Remain Divided Over Issue Of Changing Patterns in Storms
    Word Count: 787
    Gustav’s tear through the Gulf Coast and a string of tempests percolating elsewhere in the Atlantic are intensifying a debate within the scientific community over whether hurricanes are getting more destructive, and if so what is to blame.

    One theory holds that global warming caused by human activity is producing windier and wetter hurricanes by raising ocean temperatures and creating more water vapor for the storms to feed upon.

    That theory faces criticism on several points. Some dispute that the number of dangerous hurricanes is really rising. Others agree that it is, but say the increase may be part of …

    and since I do not have a subscription to WSJ, I rely on Climate Ark for the full story.
    Thing is, even with an ongoing debate among scientists about the extent to which climatic change affects severe weather patterns, that does not undermine observations of rising global surface temperatures, and even this administration’s official report on Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate states in its Key Findings:

    It is very likely that the human-induced increase in greenhouse gases has contributed to the increase in sea surface temperatures in the hurricane formation regions. Over the past 50 years there has been a strong statistical connection between tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and Atlantic hurricane activity as measured by the Power Dissipation Index (which combines storm intensity, duration, and frequency). This evidence suggests a human contribution to recent hurricane activity.
    However, a confident assessment of human influence on hurricanes will require further studies using models and observations, with emphasis on distinguishing natural from human-induced changes in hurricane activity through their influence on factors such as historical sea surface temperatures, wind shear, and atmospheric vertical stability.

    Nor does the highlighting of a debate (in the title of the WSJ piece) shed any light for us on the proportions of proponents and opponents—are they in a well-balanced battle, say 50:50, or is 100:1 more representative of the scientists’ positions pro and con? And how stable are these splits? And how many scientists change sides as new evidence emerges and further studies are concluded? So-called journalistic balance leaves a lot to be desired when members of the public are trying to get a better grip on the [grim] reality we face.
    Meanwhile, we are all missing the REAL story marching along incessantly behind the controversial headlines, which is here 😦 and you can see why when you look at the Huffington Post on CO2 trends and note what appears in the right hand column: faces, politics, celebrities, scandals … so who’s going to look at the NOAA graph for long before getting distracted?

  4. Always a pleasure to read and to post.

    I saw the Amy Goodman video. It’s pretty sickening to watch gruff men in body armor arresting an old woman who is wearing clear press credentials. (One wonders if American soldiers in Iraq envy these riot police for their body armor.)

    Of course, the Nazi comparison is not merited here, but those are the images that the video tape evokes! Ok, so they didn’t take her in the back and shoot her, but why arrest the reporter at all? And, in such a rough manner?

    And, the WSJ’s editorial board was never ashamed of spewing forth propaganda in its editorial pages. Now that Rupert Murdoch owns the paper, however, it’s very clear that they have their marching orders to put propaganda in the news pages as well.

    WSJ RIP.

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