Well, Andrew Revkin rubs me the wrong way once again with his overblown mea culpa about whether there is or is not an Inuit word for “robin”.
I’m a bit tired of people making mountains out of molehills. I understand why Andy felt compelled to take this up, but I would rather he had done so in passing rather than making a whole feature out of it. This misdirects our attentions.
Perhaps there is some overlap of the vast natural range of the robin and the vast historical territory of the Inuit. There is little doubt that the range of northern hemisphere temperate species is moving northward, though, and so the overlap must be increasing, and more dramatically the further north one goes.
Accordingly, some people are seeing robins who have never seen them before and don’t have a name for them. The contrary position isn’t even plausible.
If Knappenberger and Michaels want to argue that species ranges aren’t shifting northward they should do so. Shooting down anecdotes with counter-anecdotes doesn’t advance understanding.
Suppose we stipulate that *some* Inuit have a word for robin and some don’t.
Suppose, for a minute, we stop yelling at each other about imaginary yes/no questions and try to find questions that are more suited for science than for a courtroom. Among the most notable is this: what is the maximum peak concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere that doesn’t carry so much risk that we need to avoid it at all costs.
There must be such a number; 100% CO2 for instance, would be too much for anyone who doesn’t favor instant universal asphyxiation. Most of us think the number is on this side of 550 ppm, about double the natural background. I for one favor 450 as a target; even that carries substantial risk.
Before I see much consideration of the vague discontents of the likes of Mr Knappenberger and/or Mr Michaels, I’d like to see them advance such a number and defend it.
We absolutely have to drop the idiotic idea that carbon is innocent until proven guilty. This is not a trial at law. This is a huge decision with many tradeoffs, and people need to take a position on a spectrum. Both “innocent” and “guilty” are entirely inappropriate and destructive positions.