Death taxes and science denial

This is a more recent version of a post that I made in 2017. It seems clear that attacking science never goes out of style (ask Galileo and James Hansen), so I guess it is time to revisit this issue. Indelible in my memory is that day that I lost my political virginity. In March 2007 I was just beginning to deliver an invited talk … Continue reading Death taxes and science denial

Hurrichange is here: Denial in the time of accelerating climate change


170907-hurricane-irma-katia-jose-satellite-njs-406p_c8851aa4245f314c3e93bb62fae72af6.nbcnews-fp-1200-80011:15 am EDT September 7. NOAA.

“So there is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it. You can accomplish a lot just by creating fear and panic, you don’t need a hurricane to hit anywhere.”
Rush Limbaugh 7 September 2017 a day before he evacuated from his South Florida home.

Late last week I left my comfortable, dry, overpriced apartment in Alexandria, VA, to return to my home in Gainesville, FL, to face Irma with my partner Michele and our dogpersons, Heather and Keeper. As I write this Sunday morning, projections continue to indicate that winds in North Central Florida will exceed any in memory for this region. It is likely that the destruction of infrastructure in the region will be severe. Lives will be lost. My heart goes out to those in Ft. Myers, Tampa, Sarasota, Cedar Key, and all the west coast communities likely to be devastated by this monster. Yesterday, our climate denying governor, Rick Scott, announced with great authority, “The storm is here,” while earlier in the week two of Florida’s federal representatives voted against a debt ceiling bill that included relief for victims of Irma. Continue reading “Hurrichange is here: Denial in the time of accelerating climate change”

The Election and A Call to Service in The Anthropocene

Stephen Mulkey, PhD
4 November 2016

heather-webHeather at peace. Photo: S. Mulkey, Lakes Basin, The Eagle Cap Wilderness

“Elections have consequences.” – Barack Obama, 5 November 2008.

“Donald Trump can fool a lot of people, but you can’t fool Mother Nature.” Jacob Scherr, an attorney who is the former director of the international climate program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, 3 October 2016.

Climate change is complex. Within the scientific community, there is a broad consensus about its reality and cause, but experts hold a range of opinions about its impacts and how to address it. As any public scientist can tell you, it is hard to articulate a simple and compelling description of how the change of a few hundred parts per million of a trace gas can lead to potentially catastrophic consequences. Although complex in its interactions with natural systems, it is broadly correct to say that climate change presently amplifies the ongoing disruption of the biosphere driven by the forces of habitat destruction and extractive use of natural resources. By midcentury and beyond it will increasingly be a primary driver of the global transformation of ecosystems. The changes ensuing over this and coming centuries will be tectonic, but this message of scientific complexity and consequences does not play well in Peoria. Once again, the US political process has not made understanding this most critical of issues a prerequisite for the job of president. Continue reading “The Election and A Call to Service in The Anthropocene”

What qualifies as scientific authority?

For The Natural Resources Council of Maine

“Listen, I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change,” Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH)

“…this 97% [of climate scientists accepting human-caused global warming], that doesn’t mean anything.” Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)

“Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Stephen Colbert, satirist

studies_consensussource Skeptical Science 
Continue reading “What qualifies as scientific authority?”

Twelve lessons I wish I had learned in college

Commencement address December 2015

“We only want you to be happy……”
– Your parents

Rarely have I accurately predicted what would make me happy. Ironically, happiness often seems to be an unintended consequence of my inability to get what I want.

“The purpose of life is not happiness but worthiness.”
– Felix Adler

But, worthy for what? Who determines what is worthy? Continue reading “Twelve lessons I wish I had learned in college”

How to talk to Joe about climate change

From 03.03.2011.  This is a posting from Intermountain Climate, a blog that I kept on climate change during 2010 and 2011 while serving as Director of Environmental Science at the University of Idaho. 


Earlier this week I attended the tri-agency meeting on Global Climate Change Education at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.  The three agencies represented at this meeting were NSF, NASA, and NOAA, each with its own programs in climate change education.  I am the principal investigator on a NASA grant that provides funding for University of Idaho faculty to work with secondary school teachers to develop a curriculum on climate change.  Because I have zero formal training in education, my team of educators is far more important than I am in working with the NASA program.  My principal role in our project is to bring valid climate change science to the development of this new curriculum.  Some of my colleagues have been lukewarm in their embrace of this project, which I interpret as a concession to political reality in Idaho. Continue reading “How to talk to Joe about climate change”