Monday, December 28, 2009

Blizzard at Saginaw Forest

Blizzard in Saginaw Forest

Out here at Saginaw Forest, there was a short blizzard that fell across the landscape. I stepped out and took some photos. Brrr.... cold!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Photos from Saginaw Forest

Snow shadows
Snow shadows -- the snow on the north side of the trees hasn't melted.

South-facing slopes
Walking around the Third Sister Lake, you get to see what slope aspect does to snowmelt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Card 2009Christmas and New Year's greetings to you! As I just overheard in the cafe, "May the season make sense to you and yours." I like it, and I'm using it here!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice

Snow-covered lakeWoke today at 6:30. Saw in the dawn.

There was a dusting of snow over last night that covered what we got over the rest of the weekend, refreshing the field with a new whiteness.

Public drunkenness during Christmas? Well, it happened, methinks.

Tis that time of year again when one hears lots of Christmas carols being sung. Usually the same ones over and over and over and over and over and over again. Sometimes, we are lucky, and get away with not having to hear more modern Christmas songs (although if you want to listen to depressing Christmas songs, that is also easily done). Sometimes, there are interesting non-standard takes on Christmas music, but what about some of those songs of the season that were less about Christmas - per se - and more about the merriment of the season, or of the warmth of human kindness?

Two songs come to mind: Good King Wenceslas and The Wassail Song. True, the first song - GKW - takes place on the day after Christmas (on Feast of Stephen - December 26). It makes references to God and the divine sanction by which they rule. Still, in a modern day, we can all be like King Wenceslas in our own way, and I think that such a song - one that doesn't directly call for the worship of God, but instead looks at the kindness of one man (a king) toward another (a poor man).

Lyrics (via Wikipedia):
Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither."
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather.

"Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

The second song - The Wassail Song - is somewhat more interesting to me. It's a song about singing songs and getting paid (in beer and spirits) for singing those songs. It was written during the 17th Century, and looking at the definition of "wassail," we learn that it means drinking alcohol to wish one good health. The song - in more recent variations - has been re-named Here we come A-Caroling. Why is this, I wonder? Does it have anything to do with the major impact (on the US at least) of the temperance movement of the 1910s and 1920s (and which still continues to today)? Well, I can't say that it was that particular temperance movement, but it is clear (to me at least) that someone decided to "clean up" this song that is usually only sung around Christmas -- although it can be a good New Year song, too. Let me know what you think:

Lyrics (via Wikipedia):
Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Our wassail cup is made
Of the rosemary tree,
And so is your beer
Of the best barley.


We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door;
But we are neighbours' children,
Whom you have seen before.


Call up the butler of this house,
Put on his golden ring.
Let him bring us up a glass of beer,
And better we shall sing.


We have got a little purse
Of stretching leather skin;
We want a little of your money
To line it well within.


Bring us out a table
And spread it with a cloth;
Bring us out a mouldy cheese,
And some of your Christmas loaf.


God bless the master of this house
Likewise the mistress too,
And all the little children
That round the table go


Good master and good mistress,
While you're sitting by the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who are wandering in the mire.


Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett on religion and evolution:

I love his proof at the end to show that street lamps are more interesting than stars.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Now I've seen everything.

Ok... I'm stealing PZ Myers' title on this one, but it's quite pithy and smart. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I recently had to explain to a Taiwanese student why an ecological modeling paper didn't include humans and human drivers. I had also had the problem of trying to explain to a Japanese student the difference between "natural resource management" and "environmental protection"; the two terms were nearly synonymous to him. That got me to thinking consciously about something that I had grown up understanding: Eastern and Western philosophy place Man (i.e., human beings) in different places in relation to nature. As a person who straddled the divide while I was growing up, this didn't seem to me to be such a problem in terms of reconciliation, but I suddenly could imagine how such differences could pose roadblocks to implicit understanding between peoples.

The term "natural resources" itself is an interesting one. After all, what is a resource in this case other than an "available source of wealth; a new or reserve supply that can be drawn upon when needed" (or something very similar to that notion) which happens to be supplied by nature? The term resource is implicitly a socially constructed idea that implies conscious action (such as accumulation of resources) and economic capital (wealth) in order to carry out a goal. In other words, it is a term that is based on the outcomes of human society.

However, what is, then a "natural" resource? If it is something that is drawn from nature, then isn't potentially everything a natural resource (including humans)? Well, that depends on what you consider "nature" and what you consider "non-nature". Based - I believe - on the famous Cogito ergo sum, the mind (the seat of the conscious rational self/the ego) is separated from the body (the unconscious emotional self). Eventually, the mind/body separation became analogized into a split with man/nature. Of course, this dichotomy of man and nature can be traced back to the Greeks, as well; one could argue that Descartes merely pushed it one step further. So if what is natural are those worldly things that are not "of man" (as opposed to the supernatural, which - presumably would be ascribed to God), then man is - by default - not a part of nature.

What does that mean as a consequence, though? That people can't live together with nature - and remain somehow "people" or something else? Hmmm... (I'm not trying to say that this is the way things are, just trying to figure out the implication of this point of view). Just some thoughts for now. Very rough.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

High winds bring power lines down across I-94

On my ride home, I encountered very strong gusts of winds (possibly as high as 80 kph!). Right. In. My. Face.... Urgh... That's one thing that I don't like about my ride home -- uphill and usually into some wind. All that means there is a good chance that there will be powerlines brought down.

... and as I climbed up to the crest of the hill on Liberty Road, I noticed that the light at Stadium Blvd. was out. "Uh, oh..." Climbing slowly up Liberty Road toward Maple Road, I saw police cars with their lights on, blocking northward access. Pulling up to a police car, I asked the officer what was going on.

"Power lines are down," he yelled to me above the wind. "There are also lines across 94."

"Can I get to Kroger?" I asked. (Kroger being just north of the blocked intersection.

"No. The power's down all over the Westside."

"Do you know if it's out at Scio Township?"

Pause... "No. I don't know. Maybe."

Powerlines down across I-94With that, he suggested that I make my way home along the sidewalk, which I decided that I would do -- what with all the headwind that I would have to cycle in to. However, cycling up to the pedestrian crossing side of the bridge over I-94, I noticed traffic backed up both ways along I-94... headlights focused on a black cord lying across the four lanes; firefighters walking back and forth.

It turns out that there were more powerlines down on the west side of I-94, but looking even further up the road, I took heart after I saw lights on further toward Wagner. And sure enough, I arrive home, in the middle of the forest, and there -- in the middle of the forest, away from any house or subdivision -- is electricity.

Snow at Saginaw Forest

The snow this morning had turned mostly into slush underlying a thin top layer of white. However, it covered all the ground, with the trees remaining seemingly undisturbed by its entrance.

Morning snow and the lake

How are the 2009 Toronto Bluejays a good analogy for understanding what climate change is?

On November 11, 2009, I posted this entry, but without any graphics showing the baseball trends. I have republished it here with the baseball trend graphs (and removed the November 11th version).

Although the Bluejays won 9 of their final 13 games, this fact doesn't mean that they had any shot at being in the playoffs. Why? Because if you look at their season record, they won only 46.3% of their games, whereas the Yankees won 63.6% of their games (and went on to win the World Series). In other words, the long-term trend of the Bluejays in the 2009 season was of not being in the playoffs, let alone the World Series. Why does all this matter? Well, it's not because I'm a Bluejays fan, but because it's a good analogue of climate trends:

Even through annual temperatures may appear to have been stable or dropping in recent years, looking only at that short-term trend tells one as much about the direction of climate change (either of increasing temperature or decreasing temperature) as looking at the 69.2% winning trend of the Bluejays right before the end of the regular season: bupkis.

The winning trends of teams over 162 games of the 2009 regular MLB season is what determined which teams would go to the play-offs and eventually to the World Series. Therefore, if we look at a representative segment of the Blue Jays' and the Yankees' seasons, you will note that the Blue Jays had a strong downward (i.e., losing) trend over the last season (R^2=0.8236), while the Yankees had a strong upward (i.e., winning) trend over the last season (R^2=0.7743).

Note: For comparison purposes, I have presented the data of all games from 5/6/2009 (one month after the start of the 2009 regular season) to 10/4/2009 (the last game of the 2009 regular season). The percent-wins were calculated based on how many games each team had won since 4/6/2009 (the start of the 2009 regular season). However, the percent-win values for the first month were not included in the trendline calculation due to the strong effects that the starting percent-win values would have on the trendline (i.e., no team can start with a percent-win value of anything other than 0% or 100%, thus skewing the trendline calculation.) On 5/6/2009, the Blue Jays were playing their 30th game, and the Yankees were playing their 27th game.

In an analogous way, it is the long-term trends of temperature increases and decreases that determine how and how quickly climate is changing. If we look at the past ~150 years, we see the following yearly global temperature anomalies:
The trend seems to be in the upward direction: climate change is going in a positive anomalous direction. However, if you look at just the last few years of temperature data, you see something different:

Here, it looks like the overall trend is that of a temperature decline. However, like baseball, looking only at the last few cases (or games) does not tell you about that team's chances at making the playoffs (the Yankees 8 of their last 13, as opposed to the Bluejays winning 9 of their last 13). In the graphic to the left I have selectively chosen the data-frame, and I have not only selectively focused on only the end of the season for each team, but I have also not included the final three games played by the Blue Jays -- all of which they lost. In so doing, I highlight a short-term trend in which the not-going-to-the-playoffs Blue Jays appear to be much better than the definitely-going-to-the-playoffs Yankees. I even re-calculated the percentages (using the same ingenuous method for both teams) to make it look as if the Blue Jays would be a sure-thing for getting into the playoffs. I even get a much stronger trend than in the comparison above, with a whopping R^2=0.9964 for the Blue Jays (and a winning percentage of 90%!) and an equally impressively predictive R^2=0.9694 for the Yankees (who have a "mere" winning percentage of 64% over this same period). If these games were somehow the critical set of eight games that would determine the entirety of the season, then one would be justified in saying that these trends are significant predictors of the overall outcome. However, this small snapshot of a trend at the end of the 2009 season tells as much about the likelihood of either team reaching the World Series as looking at recent years' temperature data tells one about long-term climate change.

Therefore when a person who stayed in on February 4, 2009 in Ann Arbor, MI said, "See? It's -9 degrees outside! Global warming can't be happening!" That person is as incorrect about drawing a conclusion as the person who went to see the Bluejays beat the Red Sox on September 30 and says, "Did you see that win? We're going to go all the way this year!"

(Okay, I'm rehashing the analogy that Keith Olbermann read on one of his shows in early October - a story from - but it was a good analogy, so I am repeating it here... but with no mention of the horrible Op-Ed by George Will, and no mention of the complete blindness with which he answered the assertion laid out above. However, you can go read the ThinkProgress story and have a chuckle if you'd like.)


Alfine gearshifting leverTonight, there is SNOW!!! What that means is that I had to work on changing out my road-type tires for studded tires. The work took about an hour, because I couldn't figure out how to remove the back tire because the Alfine's internal gearshifting cable assembly thingy was not as easy to remove as I was shown at the bike store. (Not that they didn't show me how to do it -- they did -- but I was just too silly to realize that I wasn't paying enough attention to what was going on.)

Anyway, after the removal of the wheels, putting the tires on was not too difficult. I say not too difficult, because the tires -- being well oversized -- were a little difficult to actually fit over each wheel. It wasn't because it was too tight, but it was actually awkward to fit the really large tires over wheels that were on the small end of what they were meant to fit. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I got it done without too much difficulty, but I wasn't expecting it to be so difficult to do. However, I'm not an expert bike mechanic (not even an amateur one), so it's a good thing that I did this tonight, instead of tomorrow morning before I had to leave for work. (I can only imagine how much stress I would have trying to get this done in the one hour that I normally allow myself between waking up and leaving for work in the morning.)

Studded Tires!
The end result is quite nice. Of course, with much thicker tires, I'm sitting about an inch-and-one-half higher than I was with the road tires. I'll have to stop in at the bike shop to lower that seat just a tad so that I can ride with a little more peace-of-mind than riding so high on icy roads. (Of course, it will mean that I will likely be riding with a less-efficient ergonomic layup, but I wonder how bad that would be.)

If the traction of these tires are as good as the ones I had for my last bike, then this will make my travel to and from campus more secure. However, I will also have to be aware of drivers who don't have such traction on their cars; just because I can stop on a dime on ice doesn't mean that I am necessarily safe, especially if people might still be driving around on summer tires or (even if they are on winter or all-weather tires) don't recognize that they are driving on ice.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The funniest thing I saw today

As I was watching Kina Grannis' cover of Fireflies, I saw this shoutout at the end of the video:

"to australia - thank you
for always being there.
[love] from Guam"

As a person born on Guam, I just found this quite funny for some reason. I normally don't watch the shout-outs and birthday announcements, but for some reason, I decided to watch them this time. ... and I suppose that it's a good thing, because (as the title says it) it was the funniest thing that I saw today.

Another response to climategate

In another response to "climategate" we have this editorial cartoon from the Houston Chronicle that seems to sum up at least what I'm feeling and thinking about this whole thing:

I suppose the adage of "not being able to see the forest for the trees" wouldn't really have reinforced the message of global warming...

Sticking with the visual media responses to climategate, I also saw this video from Greenman3610:

Will put on studded tires tonight!

Based on the expectation of snow, sleet, and rain tonight and tomorrow morning -- and possibly through Thursday -- I'm going to put on my studded tires tonight. I've been told that the carbide steel studs would hold up quite well over the season, being harder than the asphalt on which I'll be riding. Although I can purchase new studs for later replacement, I hope that I won't have to do it for a while.

I'm looking forward to doing that change-over, but am a little concerned that I might screw up the replacement of the rear tire and Alfine internally geared hub. Since it's a horizontal bracket with a disk brake, I will have to be careful to align the wheel properly after I put tension on the chain. If it doesn't happen, the people at Great Lakes have said that they will help me out, but I want to make sure that I can do it myself.

Wooden green "supercar" from Japan

When some people think about cars, Japan is one of the places that come to mind, what with its large international car companies like Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Subaru as well as smaller companies like Isuzu and Mitsubishi. However, apart from the Toyota Prius, many people don't know about the different types of green cars that are coming out of Japan.

Recently, a Japanese wood furniture company made a "green" trike with a wooden frame:


via Inhabitat

Monday, December 07, 2009

Hulu's putting up cancelled shows?

Okay, I know that some of the shows on Hulu have not been on the air for years, but this weekend, I learned that What About Brian was canceled back in 2007, just as I was getting into what I had thought were merely back-episodes. Oh, well, life goes on.

Friday, December 04, 2009

New tires postponed

Although I purchased two new Nokian studded winter bike tires and tubes for a price of $300, they haven't gone on the bike yet. I thought that it wouldn't be proper yet to put them on, since there isn't enough ice on the roads to warrant their studded use.

Hulu: bane or benefit?

I'll admit that I have a problem with Internet addition. I like to read things and see things and the Internet is therefore so much more of a drug to me than TV -- especially since there are so many options for free streaming media these days. That brings me to Hulu.

I started using Hulu last year at some point after I moved out to Saginaw Forest, and have subscribed to a number of different shows. Of course, since I can watch these shows at any time I want, I am freed of the normal scheduling strictures that I would have to follow if I were to watch them on cable -- but at the cost of waiting a day before watching the show. Oh, well, so I don't get to vote for Dancing with the Stars, and I don't get to see The Daily Show on the same day as it was recorded. I instead get to watch them on the pop-out screen as I do work.

Of course, that's also a problem, since it is always there -- calling for my attention. And now I just started watching What About Brian. Well, "started" is an understatement -- I just watched the entire first season last night. Well, it played through an episode or two as I caught some shut-eye at around 5am. See? Dangerous!

So... benefit is that I don't have to pay for cable. The bane is that it feeds an addition. I could just quit it all together... (except that the programming is just so easy to watch).


Going to get some winter tires for the bike

With the small flurry of snow last night -- and the ice on the roads over the long Thanksgiving weekend -- has made me realize that I need to finally bite the bullet and get some studded tires, since even a warm winter in Michigan will be below freezing. Therefore, I ordered some winter tires for my bike: nice studded tires to help grip the ice and packed snow. Unfortunately, one of the companies that manufactures studded 29" wide tires has stopped making them, so I'm forced to go with a much more expensive (but supposedly far superior) brand. I'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How to deal with sign-carrying people you don't agree with

Via BoingBoing.

Why don't Conservatives want to conserve?

I read this over at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish:

I have never understood why it is conservative to take an attitude toward the natural world of how best to exploit and use it entirely for short term benefit. (My first ever publication was a paper for Thatcher called "Greening The Tories"). The conservative, it seems to me, will not be averse to using the planet to improve our lot, and will not be hostile to the forces of capitalism and self-interest that have generated such amazing wealth and abundance in the last three hundred years.
But a conservative will surely also want to be sure that he conserves this inheritance, for its own sake and also for his future use. He will want to husband the natural world, not rape it and throw it away. He will see the abandonment of all values to that of immediate gratification as a form of insanity, if not evil.
I found this interesting for several reasons because I had a discussion with a South Korean labmate about what is "conservation" as an idea (i.e., something different than "enviornmentalism" or "preservationism"). Andrew's connection between political conservativism and conservation of natural resources seems non-relatable, at least in the modern era.

The current Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) used to be called the Michigan Department of Conservation (MDC). What was it that they were trying to conserve? Trees, rivers, and natural places? Ummm.... Not so much. More like they were in charge of conserving the ability to continue to hunt (deer and fowl) and fish. In conserving these abilities, one had to maintain natural areas, however, it was in the end done to maintain human use of these places.

The more modern environmental movement - in contrast - sought to remove humans from nature and repair the damage caused by them. In some way, the environmental movement became aligned with the left-wing social movements of the time, and that political relationship has continued (in some manner) to today. Over the years, though, environmental science (especially ecology) has changed from one that excluded human activity to slowly incorporating the impacts that humans have caused and can cause, slowly moving itself from a viewpoint more in-line with environmentalism to one that is (now, from my point-of-view) somewhere between an understanding that there are human uses (more like conservation) and a desire to remove humans from nature (more like environmentalism).

Alongside this shifting in the science, as well as the continued political ties of environmental groups to the political left, has come - in fits and starts - an understanding of some conservation groups to side with environmental groups in calling for more protections on existing areas of low human impact (i.e., "natural places"). National conservation organizations - like Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited - have come to understand that climate change and diminished habitat would have future consequences on hunting and fishing activities that so many of their members liked to pursue. Similarly, these groups didn't have any strong allegiance to the political right, even though hunter groups may have had more political alliances to the right due to association with the NRA (although this is speculative).

Moving against climate change legislation, however, made good political sense at the time for "national security" reasons (national coal is less dangerous than foreign oil), "economic" reasons (subsidized coal is cheaper than non-subsidized wind or solar), "job security" reasons (coal companies hire many people that would "suddenly" become unemployed if coal had to become ramped down), "nationalist" reasons (the UN and the IPCC isn't going to run our country), "anti-tax" reasons (cap-and-trade being called "cap-and-tax"), etc. It tied into anti-governmental-regulation (i.e., "mommy-state") sentiments that were supported by many right-wing groups at the time. Such a stance could be used to link anti-climate-change stances to being against abortion, gun control, taxes, and "big government" generally speaking. However, it moved, as Andrew stated, against some of the core values of what "conservation" stands for.

It moved against the idea of conserving that very thing that is most dear to us: our world. It is from that world that we receive everything from which we can build our lives and society. We derive not only food, water, clean air, and shelter from the world, but we also derive social and personal identity from it as well. These are the fundamental things that are necessary for success in life -- those things from which we can build the self-made man. Working against those things means that one is undercutting future generations' ability to make the most of themselves. These are values that Andrew lists:
These are deeply conservative instincts, humble in the face of nature, conscious of the need to preserve for the future, aware of the limits of exploitation. These conservatives aren't utopian tree-huggers. They do not worship Gaia or see no give and take with the natural world. They believe in the harvest but also in the need for fallow years and for care and husbandry of animals and plants and environments. And they love their home for its specificity and its beauty, and do not want to see its stability and future gambled away on the casino of greed.
I would argue that for the same reasons, conservatives should be in favor of public transportation, and there have been a few articles over at that also support this feeling. One particularly good one (in my opinion) was on November 16, 2009, showing a short film about the new book Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation by William Lind. In another example of how public transportation might actually align with conservative values was written on April 29, 2009, and it quotes extensively from Andrew's posts on the same topic at around the same time.

So... what's up with conservatives and conservative values? Especially when it comes to those things that conservatives should be lining up in support of? Is it that they are opposed to them because of propaganda from sources that they -- for one reason or another -- trust? If so, then when propaganda finally clashes with reality, there could be problems ahead. Chinua Achebe wrote - somewhere in Things Fall Apart - "The truth that is a lie is harder to accept than the lie that is the truth" (or something like that, I can't find it anywhere in internet searches).  However, I think this is where that ironic statement "reality has a well-known liberal bias" rings true: that for whatever reason, the justifications of conservatives against conservation for propaganda "conservative truths" will eventually have to deal with a reality that shows "liberal bias."

Why denialism is pernicious

This past weekend, while I was in Scottsdale, AZ, I was able to take some time off and thinking about stuff that I had been mulling over prior to getting to AZ. Most of this stuff has been about the role of science in directing policy-making. However, I realized something: that is wrong with the my thinking about this sort of thing. The thing that was wrong was the impact that out-and-out denialism of scientists and the institutions of science as well. Where did this come from? How did it arise? Why is it effective, and how effective is it? Can/has science denialism affect science-based policy implementation?

Surely part of this comes from a misunderstanding of the nature of what science is. That science has been conflated with some sort of religion has made it into a practice that has been attacked on it's religious grounds - with people saying that since science is a religion, one form or other of it cannot be supported by the state; the separation of church and state argument.

However, even if people don't equate science with religion writ large, the misunderstanding still has had the problem of drawing false equivalences. From the definition of "materialism" to the definition of "theory, law, and hypothesis", and the implication of falsifiability vs. provability, many definitions of terms used among scientists and members of society hold different meanings and implications. Still, the meanings of words matter to understanding, and if people can turn meaning on its head or against its original use, the perceptions done by others of it would be problematic at the minimum and cynical at the maximum.  ... and yet the misinterpretations between scientific and social understanding continues to be expanded, maintained, and [falsely] argued.

Another part of this denialist reaction likely comes from mistrust of scientists. In my mind, some of this mistrust comes from unethical activities that have been publicized in the media. However, why do people just assume that if geneticist Hwan Woo Suk was unethical, all geneticists are unethical? Is it because the work he fabricated results for was related to a series of topics that many people find problematic - stem-cells and (through them) cloning? It's as if the pillorying of this scientist was done because it fit a previously determined narrative in which people who do stem-cell research are unethical, and once one is found, that only proves (falsely) the narrative correct. The same sort of hew-and-cry with the recent "climategate" that erupted with the leaking of e-mails between climate scientists: there is some evidence of climate scientists were trying to hide something, which fits into the theory of some global conspiracy of climate scientists trying to get everyone to emit less carbon (for some strange reason).

Still, if people are mistrusting scientists, using these justifications to deny the science, what are the implications? Well, due to the nature of science -- that it describes and investigates the causes and effects of physical phenomena -- ignoring the results of scientific studies carries implications. Denying the existence of climate change due to a few e-mails is unlike denying the existence of the Easter Bunny due to a classmate saying he doesn't exist are two very different beasts. On the one hand, there is no evidence of the presence or absence of an Easter Bunny, or even the physical, measurable impacts of no Easter Bunny. (In fact, there are many parts of the world in which the Easter Bunny doesn't even exist, or has existed.) However, there are predicted and predicable impacts to natural systems that would come out of a changed climate. These predictable impacts have (slightly less) predictable impacts on biology and (even less) predictable impacts on human society. Would it make sense to act on the possible presence or absence of climate change? Without any evidence, sure. With evidence of only the physical impacts, possibly. With evidence of the physical and biological impacts, quite possibly a good idea. With evidence of the physical, biological, and social impacts, most definitely yes.

And yet... people work at trying to keep the status quo alive and well. People with invested interests. It hurts when your truth gets overturned. It hurt the Catholic Church when Galileo showed that the evidence pointed toward the Earth not being in the center of the Creation. Similarly, it will likely hurt those invested in carbon-based fuels if climate change action is taken, and it is the same in other endeavors, too. Those that have a lot to lose also probably have a lot of incentive to maintain their point of view, and are likely to make efforts to keep their version of reality the only one that is forwarded. Thus, we see lobbying efforts by coal companies against climate change legislation; tobacco companies against tobacco legislation; and health care insurance companies against health insurance legislation.

End result: denialism has consequences on social association with science, with the type of science being done, and with the policy reactions to the scientific (and non-scientific rational) findings that go against certain invested "truths." Eventually, the truth will out. Hopefully, though, it isn't after preventative action can be taken.