Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reviewing the Bidding on Climate Change

After a few weeks to look over the current state of the science, let's take a look at what's clear and what's confusing:

Science and Politics
  1. Politics and passion are a big part of the story. It's hard to find anybody who will talk about the science of global warming without taking sides or going on the attack. Ask an honest question and you're labeled a "denier" by people who really ought to know better!
  2. There seems to be clear evidence of pressuring editors and manipulating the peer review process.
  3. A recurring complaint is that climatology research depends very heavily on statistics, but the authors of papers lack real expertise in that field.
The Greenhouse Effect
  1. What I thought I knew for sure has been shaken. I believed that everybody agreed that CO2 contributes to some degree of global warming--but that people disagreed on how MUCH it contributed. Now I realize that my basic assumptions about the "greenhouse effect" mechanism were flawed, at best. I can't explain exactly why more CO2 means more heat.
  2. Some people claim that ALL the temperature readings can be explained by a combination of natural solar cycles. Others argue that the solar cycles do a better job of predicting temperatures than the "radiative forcing model" of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
Surface Temperature Measurements
  1. I also thought I knew that global temperatures had gone up quite significantly in the decades leading up to 2000. Now I'm questioning some of that rise--I'm not confident that the surface measurements haven't been "cherry-picked." I'm not saying there hasn't been some rise--but I'd like to double-check how they selected the data they use to compute it.
  2. I'm increasingly aware of "divergences" between the land-based surface measurements and other sources of data. Tree rings haven't been matching up to northern hemisphere temperature readings since the 1960s, for some reason. Satellite readings show a divergence from surface measurements--with a larger difference from land-based readings.


Cedric Katesby said...

Ask an honest question and you're labeled a "denier" by people who really ought to know better!

Not true.
You are creating a strawman.
Asking honest questions is never wrong.
You know that.
I know that.

However, asking malicious questions in bad faith to deliberately create confusion and doubt is wrong.

Deniers exist.
They will always exist.
Holocaust Deniers.
HIV Deniers.
Moon Landing Deniers.
....and Global Warming Deniers.
They are out there.
They actually exist.
They are real.

There is a world of difference between someone who is genuinely confused and new to the subject of global warming and being a Denier.
Skeptics and Deniers are two different groups.

Deniers are fundamentally dishonest.
They ask "questions" as a rhetorical tactic. They don't actually care about any answers.
Getting the "question" out there is the goal.

"When will you stop beating your wife?" is a question.
Yet it's hardly honest.

It's called JAQ'ing off.

South Park made a rather funny video of the technique.

Season 13:Dances With Smurfs

A Future Metaphysician said...

Thanks for showing up at my blog, Cedric! I've missed you.

Speaking solely for myself, I don't know whether human activity is contributing to global warming. I do believe that people of good will should IMMEDIATELY act to remove barriers that keep us from building clean, green, safe, cheap nuclear energy. I'm happy to work with "warmists," "skeptics," "deniers," or anyone else who will help us get our energy policy back to a science-based approach.

Cedric Katesby said...

Happy to stop by.
Hope your site gets some more traffic and you get some feedback on your ideas.

Speaking solely for myself, I don't know whether human activity is contributing to global warming.

Scott, I'd like to believe you but...I've been suckered before.
Deep down, I am cynical of your motives and what you really believe.

Too many times before, I have openly and honestly engaged with people I thought were skeptics only to find out that they were really Deniers.

They were people who claimed to be looking for answers but, in reality, they just wanted to re-inforce their presuppositions.

I tried to get you to watch a couple of videos blocked.
It's not like I was asking for your credit card number.
Nor was I asking you to do a six month course of intensive study.

All I did was to recommend a couple of videos...yet that just seemed to be too big a step for you to take.
(scratches head)

When you did that, I became truely cynical about your reasons for "asking questions".

If you are going to honestly explore the issue of global warming then you should do it right.

The first thing you should do is ask yourself from where you should get your scientific information.
This is not a trivial question.

Everybody has an opinion about everything. Yet few are actually qualified to give that opinion.
The Dunning-Kruger effect.

Treat your sources of information on global warming information as cautiously as you would your sources of information on cancer or HIV.
Not all sources of information are equal.
Don't be bedazzled with some guy who pops up on the Internet who claims to have a Phd.
There are plenty of crackpots with Phds.
Focus on the science and the scientific process.
If you're shopping around for some good science then, please, go the best stores in town.
For me, the best store in town is NASA.
Those guys are GOOD at science. Their track record is second to none. They do the work.

I'm happy to talk to you in an open and civil manner about global warming.
If you don't feel up to it then I won't bother you here again.
Your blog, your rules.

However, if we are going to avoid taking past each other then you need to bring yourself up to speed on how the Denialist movement operates.
Otherwise, any discussion is just going to be an exercise in frustration.
May I ask you to try again with the history video on global warming denierism?
The American Denial of Global Warming

Then there's the Urban Heat Island effect video.
Hold your nose about the title and watch it.
Climate Denial Crock of the Week - The "Urban Heat Island" Crock
The "Crock" videos are some of the best popularisations of science for the interested public around.
If your not prepared to watch them, then you are truely missing out.

Cedric Katesby said...

Scott, just found an article that lists some of the big-name deniers.
It's a good, simple introduction on the Denialist industry.
I knew about the Exxon money, of course, but it turns out that it's only the start of it.
The Deniers have political influence, heavy financing and LOTS of it.

Rolling Stone: The Climate Killers.