Monday, February 12, 2007

Rush to Judgement

As one of the right leaning bloggers taunted for being long absent I thought I would do a quick post. I have to make it quick since as an imperialist, capitalist, exploiter of the working class I have to get back to cracking the whip and stealing from the poor.

I find it absurd the declaration that it is settled science that global warming is caused by manmade greenhouse gasses. The left decries the politicization of science, when in fact that is what they have done.

Read this article in the London Times online:

The small print explains “very likely” as meaning that the experts who made the judgment felt 90% sure about it

In scientific terms this is a huge whole. Activists are rounding up to make their case.

...The best measurements of global air temperatures come from American weather satellites, and they show wobbles but no overall change since 1999.

That levelling off is just what is expected by the chief rival hypothesis, which says that the sun drives climate changes more emphatically than greenhouse gases do. After becoming much more active during the 20th century, the sun now stands at a high but roughly level state of activity. Solar physicists warn of possible global cooling, should the sun revert to the lazier mood it was in during the Little Ice Age 300 years ago.
Climate history and related archeology give solid support to the solar hypothesis. The 20th-century episode, or Modern Warming, was just the latest in a long string of similar events produced by a hyperactive sun, of which the last was the Medieval Warming.


...But more than 10 years have passed since Henrik Svensmark in Copenhagen first pointed out a much more powerful mechanism. ...

...He saw from compilations of weather satellite data that cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars....

....The only trouble with Svensmark’s idea — apart from its being politically incorrect — was that meteorologists denied that cosmic rays could be involved in cloud formation. After long delays in scraping together the funds for an experiment, Svensmark and his small team at the Danish National Space Center hit the jackpot in the summer of 2005.
In a box of air in the basement, they were able to show that electrons set free by cosmic rays coming through the ceiling stitched together droplets of sulphuric acid and water. These are the building blocks for cloud condensation. But journal after journal declined to publish their report; the discovery finally appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society late last year.


I believe there has been some change in the temperature of the earth, but I am far from convinced it is from manmade causes. I am not convinced that this isn't any more than the normal temperature cycle the planet has gone through over thousands of years. It was less than 30 years ago that Time Magazine declared a new Ice Age on its covers. I have seen arguments that the data many of the sharp rises in temp recently has to do more with methodology and equipment than actual changes. Is it all based on the suns activity? I don't know and I don't think anyone else does for sure either.

Are there reasons to reduce carbon emissions besides the chicken littles screaming the sky is falling and the world as we know it will be dead in ten years? Yes. Air quality, energy efficiency, and energy independence are all good reasons, but lets be honost in the debate.

(I apologize for this being a very unfocused post, I just don't have time to edit it, must get back to exploiting the sick and infirm).

5 Comments:

Blogger Germanicu$ said...

It IS disingenuous to affirm the unquestioned veracity of the human causes of global warming. But it is far more disingenuous, and far more dangerous, to have the doubt preclude one from contemplating the consequences, and acting accordingly. The chicken doesn't matter, only the egg it lays.

What is the appropriate response to inconclusive science regarding human-caused climate change? To go on assuming the data is incorrect (10% possibility of that), take no action regarding mankind's use of fossil fuels, and shout down those who advocate action? I challenge anyone to rationally draw this conclusion.

Doubt is built into most "unprovable" scientific theories, such as the theory of evolution, and it does not preclude reasonable conclusions from being reached. Atomic theory (we cannot actually observe atoms, thus it is theory and not law) is the basis for our understanding of chemistry, the big bang, and the origins of life on earth. Similarly, evolutionary theory is partly the basis of our understanding of biology; if we disbelieve it because it is a theory, and throw out all the other science this theory has spawned, we may as well go back to breaking open seedpods with pointed rocks.

4:34 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

As someone who loves breaking open seedpods with pointed rocks, I find your statement morally and sexually reprehensible. A lawsuit is pending.....

I think you're rigging the debate, here Germanicus. It reminds of Pascal's wager. Since if you're wrong and we do something everything will be OK, but if you're right and we do nothing everything will be horrible, we must assume that you're right even when we think you may not be.

I really do find the idea that man is the proven cause of global warming to be quite untenable. It assumes that we know more than we do. Get me different from saying we ought not take the bus or drive more efficient cars or put solar panels on our homes. I am all for responsible action.

At the same time, I realy don't care for this global warming crowd. Part of it stems from their hypocrisy (loathe though you are to hear it, and happy oh so happy am I to render the charge) but also they seem to fall into Mr Bush's line of reasoning that since we want it to be true, it must be so. Bush wanted WMDs in Iraq so every unaccounted for building became a receptable of WMDs. THe environmentalists see global warming behind every hurricane, such that anything becomes attributable to global warming.

Remember last year when all the hurricanes were blamed on global warming? What happened this year?
Did man stop driving SUVs?

Was the last ice age good for human life (or homo habilis or whatever?) Maybe warming the globe is good. Al Gore mentions heat related deaths rising; does that mean that cold related deaths will not drop?

12:48 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

From RealClimate.org:

"Whether cosmic rays are correlated with climate or not, they have been regularly measured by the neutron monitor at Climax Station (Colorado) since 1953 and show no long term trend. No trend = no explanation for current changes." Here's the link to the monitoring site's results since 1953:

ftp://ftp.ngdc.noaa.gov/STP/SOLAR_DATA/COSMIC_RAYS/climax.tab

None of us is a climate scientist, but there are a couple of obvious red herrings that appear in all flat-earther literature on climate change, including Hurtleg's post:

1. Keep referring to it by its non-scientific name of "global warming," which allows you and FOX news anchors to mischievously point out the window at all the snow falling this morning, and think you're disproving something. The phenomenon is most often referred to by scientists as global climate change, because while an increase in mean global temperatures is one of the results, another is an increase in volatility of weather and temperatures at both extremes.

2. Refer to recent "soft" evidence that could be construed as ambiguous, but never mention the bunker-busting evidence of the climate change proponents, which consists of 650,000 year old Antarctic ice cores showing very tight relationships between temperature fluctuation and increased CO2 levels, and which demonstrate pretty conclusively that we are experiencing some of the hottest years on record.

3. Subject the scientific consensus to ad hominem attacks. Global climate change is unproven because lots of lay people say that Hurricane Katrina was caused by "global warming" (just like people used to do a few years back when El Niño was all the rage, and everything that happened was a result of El Niño), and they can't possibly know that, ergo the science is flawed. You won't find a reputable scientist who will say anything more than that events like Katrina are consistent with predictions based on global climate change models. That's the nature of science.

Germanicus hits it on the head when he notes: "Doubt is built into most "unprovable" scientific theories." Assuming your ultimate goal is in fact getting at the truth, such a position, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, is making the best the enemy of the better. Demanding absolute certainty of a scientific theory--particularly when the goal of the demand is to champion a position that just doesn't have much scientific support--is unscientific. That's not how theories become discredited--that happens through the peer-review process, and if your pet theory isn't getting much traction in that process, it's probably because your pet theory is defective, and not the result of political correctness.

Here's a good example: back when The Bell Curve came out, its publicizing of the racial differences in IQ scores was roundly denounced in the popular press and by the majority of social commentators. Hernstein and Murray were demonized by the forces of political correctness, in a very similar way to how flat-earthers now claim global climate change critics are being demonized. The difference is that if you go through the peer-reviewed scientific literature from experts on psychological testing and IQ, the overwhelming consensus is much closer to Hernstein and Murray's claims than to the sometimes utopian and naive claims of the popular press, which undoubtedly won the PR war.

Now, look at climate change literature--or have someone else, like Naomi Oreskes in "Science," look at it for you: "That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change."... Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position." Read the whole thing:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686#

Finally, I'm not sure what to do with your point about a 10% uncertainty being "huge in scientific terms." While freely admitting that many things throughout history have occurred even though they had only a 10% chance of occurring, it kind of misses the whole point of statistics and probability. 10% certainly isn't huge relative to 90%, whether in scientific terms, or any other terms you can think of.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Here's a question for HURTLEG:
What would it take to convince you that there is at least a 50% chance that humans are raising the earth's temperature? The CO2 graphs and the temperature graphs seem pretty convincing.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

sexyretard: "I think you're rigging the debate, here Germanicus. It reminds of Pascal's wager."

I get what you're saying, but that's not what I'm doing. I compare the theory of human-caused climate change to the theory of evolution in order to illustrate how important consistency is when one processes and interprets science. This is unlike discussions of political beliefs, where one is well-served by a certain intellectual flexibility.

I did and do concede that your precious pet peeve, Leftist Hypocrisy, is alive and well, stretching and meowing and coughing up furballs all over the environmental movement, the Democrat party, and Volvo dealerships. Also, I do not advocate any vague or particular "remedy" to human induced climate change; frankly I don't think there's anything that can stave off imminent ecological catastrophe, so there's no "damned if you don't" *gotcha* involved.

As any 12-stepper knows, the first step is acknowledging you have a problem. Refusing to acknowledge the science because there is "doubt" involved is nothing short of intellectual denial.

Noam Chomsky: "you have to be willing to develop an attitude of critical examination toward whatever is presented to you." The key word here is "critical", meaning using your faculties to infer that the data presented to you paint a plausible and reasonable picture of reality. The key word is not "whatever", meaning approaching every datum presented with unnecessary skepticism. I mean, you get along just fine believing the earth is round, and go to no trouble doubting the data that proves it so. Yet you don't "know" this inherently: your reasonable faith in science affirms it. What makes believing in human-induced climate change so much more difficult?

11:52 PM  

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