John Salerno

Why do people deny anthropogenic global warming?

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I'm not really well versed in this topic, but one question that occurred to me is why so many people are opposed to the idea of humans causing or contributing to global warming. The closest scenario I can think of is people who deny evolution, but at least their reason is clear: religion. But what is it about global warming that causes people to deny humans' contribution? I can understand why corporations like oil companies would deny it, and their subsequent supporters in Congress maybe, but why do normal, everyday people deny it? It doesn't seem to present an immediate conflict with some other belief system, as evolution does with religion.

 

Thanks.

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ewmon    158

IMHO, I think they can't accept that they themselves have done anything wrong because it infringes upon them feeling good about themselves. And there may be various degrees of denial.

 

LOOKING INTO THE PAST. Older, conservative people have lived a long life and have a short future. They are in denial about having accumulated the most miles (compared to younger drivers) and having driven the worst polluters (from bygone years). They want to feel good about their lives and can't admit that their decades upon decades of driving ICE cars was "bad" and that they shouldn't be driving their current ICE car.

 

IN THE IMMEDIATE SENSE. They don't want the freedom of having a car taken from them (same as loosing their license due to old age), and their limited wealth and fixed income would be seriously pinched if they had to go out and by a new hybrid (very few used hybrids are for sale). They don't like or need this newfangled technology.

 

LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE. They don't have much of a "future" themselves, being as old as they are, so they personally have little stake in it. They also don't want to think that they have $#!^ in their own backyard. They don't want to think that they trashed the world that their children and grandchildren must now live in.

 

THEIR PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION. They personalize it ... they only drive a little bit a few times a week, they don't drive billions of cars billions of miles around the world, so their own little car doesn't really contribute to the problem. Let other people switch over to those fancy hybrids if they want, they don't need to. The stinky buses and trucks are the cause of the problem.

 

US VERSUS THEM. America blossomed after WW2 with the advent of the modern car and superhighways. Life was "good" back then, and the car made it happen. The ones who are to blame are those monstrously overpopulated, up-and-coming, backwards, polluting countries like India and China who are spoiling it for the rest of us. Let them change, not us. They're spoiling it for the rest of us.

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swansont    6213

I don't think there's a simple answer. People disagree with complex science which disagrees with their intuition all the time, so there doesn't have to be an ideological backing to it at all. Some who reject evolution may do so because they can't comprehend or accept that it could account for what we observe around us, and we are certainly familiar with people who reject relativity and quantum mechanics with no obvious doctrine pushing them to do so and much clearer evidence in support of those theories. Legitimate skepticism does exist.

 

That said, all it really takes is some vocal leaders with an axe to grind and for others — not necessarily driven by the same motivation — to pick up the banner. Of the vocal leaders, it can be because they are being paid to do it — there is an economic motivation in industries to advance the anti-AGW positions. There have been other arguments that tie in with the "big government taxing you" fears associated with conservatives; the status quo is that we in the US largely socialize the cost of pollution, and efforts to make industry pay have generally been fought by the right. But with complex science, there are simplistic arguments that sound plausible to those without a strong science background. We saw it in the OJ trial, when the defending attorneys asked if the small amount of DNA (can't recall if it was micrograms or nanograms) was really enough to do a DNA test. We see similar appeal to ridicule in AGW discussions. Cherry picking of data, trotting out "experts" who aren't, appeal to conspiracy, logical "rudeness" (e.g. requiring specific evidence in support of an argument, when a spectrum of evidence can support it) can all appear to be reasonable objections, and appeal to a random person who possesses no overt ideology. In short, people falling for these arguments have been hoodwinked, and while they may be predisposed to some of the possible political ideologies, it's not a requirement.

 

To the extent that there is, I'd say it's political. You have people who hear their favorite mouthpiece saying that global warming is a big-government conspiracy and they just believe it. It's not the only example of people who will blindly parrot other things that they are told.

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pioneer    65

The resistance has to do with emotional thinking. Emotions can create and/or reinforce thoughts. Fear helps to narrow the mind down to the immediate short term, because this emotion is designed for an immediate action and resolution. This is why long term data trends, that show natural global warming/cooling are hard to see, by the those who fear immediate risk.

 

As an analogy, you are hungry. At that moment an earthquake happens. The immediacy of fear will trump the hunger and all thoughts of food. One will begin to think thoughts that help one act on the fear. One may then run out of the house and go outside. The fear of man-made global warming causes many to think and act within the immediacy of the fear, making longer term calm thinking, such as the natural cycles of the earth, harder to register. Such ideas are not attached to the immediacy of fear and get ignored.

 

What I would like to see is a discussion of the good side of global warming. Not all places on earth will see gloom and doom. This summer in New England was one of the warmest, with vacationers and local farmers both having the best year in a long time. This discussion will neutralize some of the fear, so the amount of data one can see and discuss will be greater. It is like someone from California feeling an earth quake tremor. They have learn to balance the fear, with calculated objectivity. There one might continue to make dinner.

 

Such positive side discussions, by lowering fear, remove the urgency of fear, and get pushed aside, by those who benefit by the fear. They don't want the mind to stray from the fear and its induced focus on the narrowest data set. It is easier to scare someone than to settle them down to calm objectivity. This should not be an emotional issue, unless emotions are being used to help narrow the mind and trump objectivity.

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swansont    6213

 

What I would like to see is a discussion of the good side of global warming. Not all places on earth will see gloom and doom. This summer in New England was one of the warmest, with vacationers and local farmers both having the best year in a long time. This discussion will neutralize some of the fear, so the amount of data one can see and discuss will be greater. It is like someone from California feeling an earth quake tremor. They have learn to balance the fear, with calculated objectivity. There one might continue to make dinner.

 

 

While we're at it, why don't we discuss the antivax movement in terms of how it's a boon to the funeral home industry? See, it's not all bad! As a political strategy, why would you want to allay a fear if it will lessen the will to do something about it? That's another of the anti-AGW strategies.

 

——

 

Upon further consideration, I think there is a religious ideology that can come into play here. There is a set of people who firmly believe that man has dominion over the planet and that "God will provide," so there is nothing that man can do which would cause real harm to the planet. Or, that the end of days is upon us, so whatever we do won't matter anyway. I won't hazard a guess as to how widespread those beliefs are.

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Hmm, some interesting points (and a very sad video to watch!). But I do think swansont has a point about downplaying the harm of GW. Is that really the best approach to take when what we really need to do is make people realize that it is a real and damaging occurrence? No need to use fear as a tool, but certainly we don't want to ignore the real fears that GW may cause.

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Moontanman    1952

I think the need to deny anthropogenic global warming is a strange brew of religion, capitalism, fear of change, and a large dollop of patriotism....

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jimmydasaint    154

I think the need to deny anthropogenic global warming is a strange brew of religion, capitalism, fear of change, and a large dollop of patriotism....

 

I agree with this pithy and witty reply, and acknowledge the sound sense of the previous posts. However, remember that people also look back at past weather patterns and start to wonder if there is a 'natural' cycle at work rather than AGW. For example I listened to a BBC Radio 4 programme which recounted that British inhabitants in the medieval ages enjoyed wine from home grown grapes and a warmer climate than today.

 

IMHO, the past cycles of temperature fluctuation are another puzzling factor for the skeptics. For example, this article states the following:

 

Much warmer times have also occurred in climate history during most of the past 500 million years, Earth was probably completely free of ice sheets (geologists can tell from the marks ice leaves on rock), unlike today, when Greenland and Antarctica are ice-covered. Data on greenhouse gas abundances going back beyond a million years, that is, beyond the reach of antarctic ice cores, are still rather uncertain, but analysis of geological samples suggests that the warm ice-free periods coincide with high atmospheric CO2 levels. On million-year time scales, CO2 levels change due to tectonic activity, which affects the rates of CO2 exchange of ocean and atmosphere with the solid Earth. See Section 6.3 for more about these ancient climates.

Another likely cause of past climatic changes is variations in the energy output of the Sun.

 

Measurements over recent decades show that the solar output varies slightly (by close to 0.1%) in an 11-year cycle. Sunspot observations (going back to the 17th century), as well as data from isotopes generated by cosmic radiation, provide evidence for longer-term changes in solar activity. Data correlation and model simulations indicate that solar variability and volcanic activity are likely to be leading reasons for climate variations during the past millennium, before the start of the industrial era.

 

 

IPCC Working Group

Edited by jimmydasaint
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D H    1371

I think the need to deny anthropogenic global warming is a strange brew of religion, capitalism, fear of change, and a large dollop of patriotism....

Nice AGW love fest going on here. I'd join -- except I'm not a believer. All of this talk about beliefs gives cause to wonder which is the side of reason. Senatecritters want to put us non-believers on an iceberg. A question for you true believers: Is the need to believe in AGW a strange brew of whatever you all on the left eat and drink, maybe some weird reaction from too much sushi and espresso?

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Nice AGW love fest going on here. I'd join -- except I'm not a believer. All of this talk about beliefs gives cause to wonder which is the side of reason. Senatecritters want to put us non-believers on an iceberg. A question for you true believers: Is the need to believe in AGW a strange brew of whatever you all on the left eat and drink, maybe some weird reaction from too much sushi and espresso?

 

Ah good, someone to ask directly then. Can you explain the specific reasons you don't accept AGW? What kind of scientific evidence do you reject? What reasons do you have to think it's purely natural?

 

(I'm really asking, so let's try to keep the discussion civil.) :)

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D H    1371

I don't accept AGW to the extent claimed by most of the adherents as fact. I particularly do not accept it as a fact that demands a complete revamping of our economy and our way of life. That is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence.

 

I don't accept all the incredible hype pumped out by the AGW crowd. AGW is a multi-decadal phenomena. Those who believe in AGW are correct when the wacko anti-AGW crowd talks about record lows in Podunk or record snowfall in England. So what's all this crap about AGW being the cause of the flooding in Pakistan or the heat wave in Russia? For now, that appears to be weather, not climate. (What's happening Russia may be a clue that it isn't just weather, but we'll have to wait for winter/next spring to really know for sure.)

 

I don't accept the incredible vitriol against those of us who are not true believers. A senatorcritter (all of the people in the house and senate are critters, not people) proposing, even in jest, that us non-believers be rounded up and relocated to that recently calved glacier was beyond pale. People in government positions should never joke about relocation or reeducation programs.

 

I don't accept that the science is settled. We have only recently learned about climatological phenomena such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, etc, that apparently have a huge impact on the climate. We simply don't know enough about the climate to be making extreme economic and cultural decisions based on a science that is still in its infancy.

Part of my problem is that I know too many meteorologists. My first career involved working with weather satellites. I worked on one of the first satellite-based ozone measurement experiments, I worked on remote sensing of vegetation, and I helped build and install weather satellite ground stations around the world. I worked with a lot of meteorologists and a few climatologists back then. I still keep in touch with some of them. Meteorologists as a group tend to be rather skeptical of claims of AGW.

 

 

 

I guess I fall in the luke warmer camp. The question in my mind is not whether CO2 has an impact on the climate. The question is the magnitude of those impacts and whether feedback mechanisms will mitigate or exacerbate the effects. An impact less than the extremes projected by the IPCC makes the problem smaller than many other problems faced by humanity. Addressing AGW would be solving the wrong problem. Humanity has had plenty of other impacts on the environment. We have changed the face of the planet. While many of those changes are essential to sustaining a population of 7 billion and counting, many are not. Spending money to mitigate those known, significant, and to some extent curable impacts would yield a better bang for the buck than spending money on what is potentially a non-problem.

 

-------

 

<Rant>

What the <expletive deleted> is the deal with the random fonts, random font sizes, and random line spacing here? I didn't do that (at least not intentionally).

</Rant>

Edited by D H
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JohnB    709

DH has covered a lot of it, but here's my bit.

 

In regard to the OP, John you aren't being specific enough. What are we supposed to be denying?

 

Do we deny the climate changes? No.

Do we deny the world has warmed over the last 100 years or so? No.

Do we deny that CO2 is a GHG? No.

Do we deny that introducing CO2 into the atmosphere must have some effect? No.

Do we deny that physics tells us that doubling CO2 should lead to a roughly 1.1 degree increase in global temperature? No.

 

After that, things get a bit stickier.

 

Some of us have been concerned at the level of confidence expressed by such a new science. For example the amazing lack of statisticians who are involved in some of the very heavily statistical areas. There is a rather interesting paper being discussed in the blogosphere at the moment. Mc Shane and Wyner 2010 (2.5 meg pdf) has been reviewed and is about to be published in the "Annals of Applied Statistics". Since a paleoclimatic reconstruction relies heavily on statistical techniques, it is interesting to see what statisticians have to say about those techniques as used in the published papers. Basically they followed what the paleo people were doing and critiqued it from a statistical POV. It's not pretty.

 

Some have been looking at the temperature record and finding some problems. Some think this is vital and others don't think it's that important. Personally I think it's important to do right, whether it has importance after that is another matter. We know the world has warmed over the last 100 years, but is it that important as to whether it is by .6 degrees or .8 degrees? Possibly.

 

Now we come to the fun part. Attribution. We are told "The world has warmed", no argument there. We are also told "Man has played a major part in this warming", hmmm, possible. We are told "It's mans production of CO2 that is the major cause", sorry, no. Not proven. Note however that it's rarely phrased that way. It's normally "The world has warmed and mans production of CO2 is the culprit." When we disagree with this overarching sentence the response is "You don't believe the world has warmed?" and we are accused of being anti-science. This is a standard technique in propaganda. Make the broad claim but use the correct details to demonise. Another useful technique is to quote out of context, iNows video has some great examples.

 

There are many things that man does that effect the climate, CO2 production is only one of them. We dam rivers and irrigate thousands of square miles for crops, we've built huge cities covering millions of square miles of grass with black asphalt. There is also natural climate variation. The IPCC thinks these forcings are small, we (and a number of published papers) disagree.

 

Here is a plot from CRU data.

Hadley-global-temps-1850-2010-web.jpg

 

You will note that there have been three periods of warming since 1850.

 

1. 1860-1880 (20 years) with a trend of .163 degrees/decade.

2. 1910-1940 (30 years) with a trend of .15 degrees/decade.

3. 1975-1998 (24 years) with a trend of .166 degrees/decade

 

Each of these is separated by a cooling trend period which is also (and amazingly) 20-30 years long. A linear trend since 1850 with a multi decadal oscillation would give a pretty good fit to the data. But we would have to find a multi decadal oscillation with the same time frequency as the warming and cooling trends for this idea to be reasonable. The PDO and ANO would fit the bill quite nicely, but the IPCC says that natural forcings are small. I find it fascinating that 30 years worth of El Ninos only give a "small" forcing yet one big one in 1998 blew out the worlds temps by about .3 degrees, don't you?

 

Back to the warming trends. The first two are unequivicably described as "natural", yet the third which is of the same length, period, and trend is predominantly "man made". Isn't it just an amazing coincidence that the "man made" warming trend just happens to fit so exactly the previous "natural" warmings? Aren't we just so damn lucky that the natural forcings that caused exactly the same warming trend stopped when they did, or we would have been in real trouble. The other point is that we don't actually know what the forcings were for the previous warming trends anyway, but like many things "It doesn't matter".

 

I'll be blunt. Given the obvious oscillations in temperature the "Null Hypothesis" is that nothing unusual is going on and that the most recent period of warming is nothing more than a natural trend. The most recent period is not unusual in any way, statistically there is no difference between the three periods. There is no evidence in the record of any extra forcings coming into play. It is up to the AGW side to prove otherwise. They cannot. FWIW, I think that a reasonable hypothesis (since adding CO2 must cause some warming) is that the slight increase due to CO2 is probably being negated by particulate pollutants and negative feedbacks.

 

A further area of doubt are the model projections. And I'll get the first response out of the way. iNow, all of them. I've mentioned this paper before, Solomon et al 2010. I quote from the abstract (which contains the salient point);

stratospheric water vapor probably increased between 1980 and 2000, which would have enhanced the decadal rate of surface warming during the 1990s by about 30% as compared to estimates neglecting this change. These findings show that stratospheric water vapor is an important driver of decadal global surface climate change.

Changes in Stratospheric Water Vapour is not included in calculating the model forcings (How could it be?) and is a strong forcing. Come back with the projections after the new factor has been included.

 

This is indeed the point re model projections, the sheer volume of what we don't know. Not knowing everything != knowing nothing, that is accepted, but the problem here is we don't know how little we know. A simple example. Over the years we've heard that the models predict changes in hurricanes, that's fine, if the climate changes we would expect hurricane patterns to change. But our models are "based on" physics, (I love that phrase, it's like saying the movie "Titanic" was "based on" fact) so we should be right. Except for this. It would appear that chlorophyll has a lot to say about hurricane formation and track in the Pacific. As people will be quick to point out, this conclusion was reached by using a model. That's fine, but hurricane generation models are not the same as GCMs and their predictions are normally for 1 season.

 

As the formation (or not) of hurricanes effect the transport of water vapour over large but regional areas and therefore the ability of the planet to cool itself. Hands up all the GCMs that include chlorophyll and ocean colour in their computations.

 

I echo the words of DH re the vilification spread by the AGW crowd. When few speak up at the idea of relocation, you can plainly see how you have sunk. But concerning that particular piece of ice which has many in the AGW camp wetting themselves with glee I quote two people from a Voice of America article;

The Greenpeace activist;

"I think this is more evidence to add to the growing body of knowledge that shows that climate change is happening,"

 

The researcher who studies that glacier;

"Even a big piece like this over 50 years is not that significant. It's just the normal rate," he said.

 

Muenchow warns people not to jump to conclusions. "An event like this, this specific event, all flags go immediately up, 'Oh, let's explain this by global warming.' I cannot support that," he said.

 

Note also the misdirection in the Greenpeace statement. A "growing body of knowledge that shows that the climate change is happening" is not in any way proof that man has a single bloody thing to do with it. Which is what I was getting at concerning attribution. The generic statement "Climate change is happening and man is responsible" actually, and wrongly combines two issues. Once combined it is assumed that proof of the first concept (Climate change) is also proof of the second concept (Attribution). This is logically false.

 

As has been pointed out ad nauseum. The climate always changes. There has not been a time in the entire 4.6 billion years of history on this planet when it did not. Betting that the climate will change is a surer bet than betting that the sun will rise tomorrow. (If, for some strange and incomprehensible reason the Sun did not rise tomorrow, the climate would change rather rapidly)

 

Combining the two concepts into one statement as it is often done is just as logically stupid and pointless as "Climate change is happening and Democrats are responsible". And since the climate changes then obviously the Democrats are responsible. Let's go futher using exactly the same logic. "The climate is changing and fairies at the bottom of the garden are responsible." Great, I've not only proved the existence of fairies in the garden, I've proved they are responsible for climate change. It's so easy to prove stuff when you use crap logic, isn't it?

 

That should do for now, it's getting late. But one question for the "Warmistas". Why is it so much easier to pontificate about the sceptics percieved moral and political shortcomings than have a real close look and see if they might not have a point? Is your certainty really that weak?

 

To the extent that there is, I'd say it's political. You have people who hear their favorite mouthpiece saying that global warming is a big-government conspiracy and they just believe it. It's not the only example of people who will blindly parrot other things that they are told.

Is that the same thing as when people hear their favourite mouthpieces claiming a "Big Oil" conspiracy or that something is "debunked" and blindly parrot the things they are told? I don't deny it happens, but I find it interesting that some people seem to believe that it only happens on one side. :D

Edited by JohnB
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Moontanman    1952

While I agree that humans are the main force behind global warming I take exception to the idea of the whole end of the world hype that is being used to promote the idea of AGW. The Earth, throughout much if not most of the history of complex life, was a much warmer place than it is now. Since the end of the Cretaceous period the Earth has experienced several ice ages, mostly due to continent alignments and lack of volcanic activity. Humans, even from before the beginning of civilization, have caused the release of CO2 into the air by burning forests and later fossil fuels but I take exception to this being a bad thing. What if we are the only thing keeping the earth from falling into a semipermanent ice age?

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16026-humans-may-have-prevented-super-ice-age.html

 

 

Our impact on Earth's climate might be even more profound than we realise. Before we started pumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the planet was on the brink of entering a semi-permanent ice age, two researchers have proposed.

 

Had we not radically altered the atmosphere, say Thomas Crowley of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and William Hyde of the University of Toronto in Canada, the current cycle of ice ages and interglacials would have given way in the not-too-distant future to an ice age lasting millions of years.

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swansont    6213

DH has covered a lot of it, but here's my bit.

 

In regard to the OP, John you aren't being specific enough. What are we supposed to be denying?

 

Do we deny the climate changes? No.

Do we deny the world has warmed over the last 100 years or so? No.

Do we deny that CO2 is a GHG? No.

Do we deny that introducing CO2 into the atmosphere must have some effect? No.

Do we deny that physics tells us that doubling CO2 should lead to a roughly 1.1 degree increase in global temperature? No.

 

To steal from an old joke, "What you mean we, paleface?"

 

You may not deny these positions, but there are people who have. There has been a spectrum from no warming to some warming but not anthropogenic in origin to warming but it will be good for us, so no worries. There have been arguments that since CO2 is such a small component of the atmosphere, it couldn't possibly cause warming.

 

 

Is that the same thing as when people hear their favourite mouthpieces claiming a "Big Oil" conspiracy or that something is "debunked" and blindly parrot the things they are told? I don't deny it happens, but I find it interesting that some people seem to believe that it only happens on one side. :D

 

Point take, but that wasn't the topic of the thread. If you want to discuss political tactics of the discussion, I'm sure we can find too many examples of less-than-honorable behavior on both sides. But I simply don't understand the position that government-funded scientists are in it for the money, and they'd lose funding if their results came out a certain way. It's not just AGW, either. There's a "conspiracy" for a lot of science, including physics (e.g. relativity), in which we are portrayed as high priests, defending the dogma. OTOH, there are concrete examples of scientists taking money to come up with studies that have a certain answer, or companies that pay for studies and bury the results that aren't to their liking.

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DH has covered a lot of it, but here's my bit.

 

In regard to the OP, John you aren't being specific enough. What are we supposed to be denying?

 

Do we deny the climate changes? No.

Do we deny the world has warmed over the last 100 years or so? No.

Do we deny that CO2 is a GHG? No.

Do we deny that introducing CO2 into the atmosphere must have some effect? No.

Do we deny that physics tells us that doubling CO2 should lead to a roughly 1.1 degree increase in global temperature? No.

 

After that, things get a bit stickier.

 

Well, like I said, my knowledge in this area isn't very thorough, so perhaps I don't really know the right questions to ask. However, I do know that many people *do* deny the claims you make above, and it's mainly those people I was wondering about. From the content of your post, you are clearly one of the more sophisticated skeptics of AGW, but I suppose I had in mind the people who are denying AGW but can't give such an answer as yours. There are people who even deny the basic claim that the earth is warming (oh look, it was cold today in Boston) and it was these people that had me scratching my head wondering why they continued to deny the evidence.

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D H    1371

Why do some people think Bush was behind 9/11? Why do some people think Obama is not a US citizen? Why do some people think the world will end on 21 Dec, 2012? Why do some people think that water retains a "memory" of some solute even after diluting by a factor of 1:1060?

 

Some people are so disconnected from reality that there is no explaining their thinking except as a professional study by psychologists in delusional pathologies.

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AzurePhoenix    148

Upon further consideration, I think there is a religious ideology that can come into play here. There is a set of people who firmly believe that man has dominion over the planet and that "God will provide," so there is nothing that man can do which would cause real harm to the planet. Or, that the end of days is upon us, so whatever we do won't matter anyway. I won't hazard a guess as to how widespread those beliefs are.

I've noticed a third variation on the general theme, being that the world is ours to exploit as we wish (humanity being all that counts) and we will always be able to rise above the challenges posed by an environmentally crippled (aka profitably utilized) world to continue on unimpeded, whether through our own cunning or God's help. Hmm... much like the antagonistic themes illustrated in C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, particularly the first and last books. Edited by AzurePhoenix
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JohnB    709
However, I do know that many people *do* deny the claims you make above

How do you know? Are the people that do make such silly statements actually in the debate or are they just some guy down the pub? If you were to go through the archives of the major sceptic blogs, do you think that you would find "many" holding that position? What you "know" may not be the truth at all. :)

 

Those who say "It's a cold day....." frankly I don't even bother with. This sort of comment shows that they know absolutely nothing about what is going on. Weather is not Climate. These people are just as bad as those who sieze on a hot spell or heatwave and cry "See! See! I told you so!" Unfortunately this group now includes a number of leading lights in the climate community.

 

John, I'm not trained in science like a lot of people here. But in the last 6 years, with the examples set by people like swansont, mooeypoo, DH and others I've come to hold the works and opinions of two people in very high regard, Carl Popper and Richard Feynmann. If there is one thing that bugs the daylights out of me WRT climate science it's the constant looking for things "consistant with" the theory. Climate science doesn't "test" of "falsify" their models, they "validate" them. One of the most basic principles of the scientific method as I have been taught by the people here is falsification. Try to prove yourself wrong and every time you fail, your theory is stronger. Some areas of Climate science turn this whole concept on it's head.

 

Take the stats paper I linked to above. They did their own reconstruction using the data archived by Micheal Mann for Mann 2009, the most recent reconstruction. They show that by the time you go back 1,000 years the error bars get too big to make definitive statements. To quote from the paper;

they are much larger than those provided by climate scientists. In fact, our uncertainty bands are so wide that they envelop all of the other backcasts in the literature.

(Emphasis mine.)

 

I expect that this will mean that the paper will be declared as "consistant with" the previous reconstructions. Why not? Hot, cold, less snow, more snow, drought, flood, every other thing that happens is declared as "consistant with" the theory.

 

I can only echo the words of Professor Kelly from the Oxburgh inquiry;

I take real exception to having simulation runs described as experiments (without at least the qualification of ‘computer’ experiments). It does a disservice to centuries of real experimentation and allows simulations output to be considered as real data. This last is a very serious matter, as it can lead to the idea that real ‘real data’ might be wrong simply because it disagrees with the models! That is turning centuries of science on its head.

 

AP, environmentally crippling the landscape is not a good business practice as it cuts down on the scope for future profits. Which is the big flaw in the "Big Oil" or "Big whatever" argument. It assumes these companies have no future plans, which is simply false. Large companies have plans for decades in advance. Fluid plans perhaps, but the general direction is there. Allowing the ecology and therefore the economy to be seriously compromised would be poor business strategy as it reduces profit. The second flaw in the concept is that it assumes that executives from these either companies either 1) have no children and grandchildren or 2) have no concern about their welfare. Why on Earth would somebody intentionally destroy the world their children will live in?

 

I realise the concept agrees with the Marxist ideal of the "greedy capitalist", but come on, get serious. All the execs will sacrifice their children and grandchildren for money now? You'd have to live in fantasy land to believe that.

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swansont    6213

Why do some people think Bush was behind 9/11? Why do some people think Obama is not a US citizen? Why do some people think the world will end on 21 Dec, 2012? Why do some people think that water retains a "memory" of some solute even after diluting by a factor of 1:1060?

 

Some people are so disconnected from reality that there is no explaining their thinking except as a professional study by psychologists in delusional pathologies.

 

And they vote.

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swansont    6213

How do you know? Are the people that do make such silly statements actually in the debate or are they just some guy down the pub? If you were to go through the archives of the major sceptic blogs, do you think that you would find "many" holding that position? What you "know" may not be the truth at all. :)

 

Those who say "It's a cold day....." frankly I don't even bother with. This sort of comment shows that they know absolutely nothing about what is going on. Weather is not Climate. These people are just as bad as those who sieze on a hot spell or heatwave and cry "See! See! I told you so!" Unfortunately this group now includes a number of leading lights in the climate community.

 

 

 

Senator Inhofe, for one, is very vocal in making those arguments, e.g. building an igloo after it snowed (in February!). Others show up in op-ed pages, on shows like Beck and Limbaugh, influencing people who vote for congresscritters who hold the anti-AGW position.

 

 

 

I expect that this will mean that the paper will be declared as "consistant with" the previous reconstructions. Why not? Hot, cold, less snow, more snow, drought, flood, every other thing that happens is declared as "consistant with" the theory.

 

 

But this is the same trap you point out earlier — you are describing weather. What the predictions include is that extrema will become more pronounced, and that is something that can be quantified.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/science/earth/15climate.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

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Senator Inhofe, for one, is very vocal in making those arguments, e.g. building an igloo after it snowed (in February!). Others show up in op-ed pages, on shows like Beck and Limbaugh, influencing people who vote for congresscritters who hold the anti-AGW position.

 

Yes, people like that are who I had in mind, not just anecdotal accounts from people on the street. And granted, I don't put much trust in anything someone like Glenn Beck says, but the fact is he is one of them promoting the idea that GW may not even be happening at all.

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JohnB    709

Ah, I see the problem.

 

Outside the US, the names Inhoffe, Beck, Limburg (isn't that a cheese?) mean nothing.

 

While it might offend some sensibilities in the US, I fail to see why an International debate on world issues should be held hostage to the vagarities of American internal politics.

 

Please, get over yourselves. Outside your borders these "opinion formers" mean less than nothing.

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