[LINK] the weather makers
rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Mon Apr 9 12:56:22 EST 2007
Stewart Fist wrote:
> Kim writes:
>> I have a question for you: what would it
>> take for you to believe that global warming is actually happening?
> You've missed the whole point Kim.
> I do believe that global warming is happening -- because that is the one
> measurable change that scientists agree upon
> But global and regional temperatures change all the time. It warms then it
> cools. It warms here, while it cools there.
> It's not easy to measure temperatures on a global scale -- and its not sure
> that the measurements we take today are comparable with those that were
> taken 100 years ago with glass-and-mercury thermometers. But while the
> scientists say they can measure this warm change, I have to accept it.
> When it does warms (even in the remote past) apparently the levels of CO2 in
> the atmosphere increase -- and when the levels of C02 increase it apparently
> gets warmer. So this is a reinforcing system. But if this were an isolated
> cycle (with nothing counteracting the heating), then the world would head
> off into an irreversable episode of every-increasing global heating. But
> there's no evidence that this has happened in the past.
As it happens, nobody in "real" science is suggesting an irreversible
ever-increasing episode in today's scenarios, because the models don't
run out that far in the future. We can, however, already observe current
temperatures and measure current CO2 concentrations and emissions. Just
sticking with what we can observe is sufficient for worry.
> I think Flannery is a good science promoter and museum administrator, and an
> excellent popular science writer. But he is only acting as a science writer
> when he writes outside his own field, and therefore shouldn't be elevated
> into unquestioned secular sainthood.
> I also agree that many professional climate deniers owe their public stance
> to the generous funding of the energy industry. But that doesn't make every
> 'denier' automatically corrupt.
However, Stewart, the population of truly independent sceptics is
vanishingly small; and the attention given to "funded" sceptics is
In this, the media has been duped by itself. There is some perceived
need to give "equal" coverage to the "denial" case, because of a
perceived need for balance. Problem is, facts aren't balanced. They're
> Despite the fact that scientists and lay people holding unpopular sceptical
> views on this, constantly get told they are idiots
... See above. Which scientists? ... by which I am asking, which
scientists are on the record, with no inducement or interest to
represent, as flat-out deniers of climate change, and for which they
have been told they're idiots. As for the lay public; their views are
more likely to be shaped by the bought men of the Institute of Public
Affairs, which is in the "ear" of the editors and politicians (or for
that matter by the Piers Ackerman-type editorialists recycling
backgrounders from right wing think tanks) than by the views of a
scientist whose voice they haven't heard and whose name they don't remember.
> - there are plenty of
> top-class independent scientists who hold a position very similar to mine.
We can hardly assess the views of the scientists without names or
citations, can we?
> 1. I agree that if the consensus of metereological opinion is that the earth
> is warming, then we have to accept their evidence and act on it. But we
> have the right to ask: Ddo they really know? Have they measured in a
> consistent and accurate way?
Yes, we have the right to ask this. But if we don't have the expertise
to assess the consistency and accuracy of the science, then we don't
have the right to "pick and choose" what we'll agree with.
> 2. I don't agree that this means they know what has caused the temperature
> increases -- this is opinion or speculation, based on some good evidence
> probably (but not overwhelming). I want to know how they define what are
> the proportional contributions of man-made and natural causes. I don't
> think this is anything more than educated opinion -- and some good scientist
> disagree with the majority.
Actually, the number of available causes of a change in temperature are
not so great as to be completely bewildering.
> If they did know how to apportion this, and what caused the natural
> component, then they could explain the history of climate change. They
That's not quite so, either. There exist quite a number of models for
discussion of past events. What scientists avoid is trying to make an
absolute statement about something like "what happened 100,000 years
ago", because they are quite aware that anybody can claim to have
"predicted the past".
What happens, however -- in a think-tank technique borrowed from
creationists -- is that a general wariness about 'predicting the past'
is held up as "see? They admit they can't tell with certainty what
happened in the Little Ice Age! We can't trust what they say about
This is deliberate and dishonest: people who know better are deploying
lies and misdirection to try and avoid the "man in the street" forming
an unfavourable opinion.
> 3. Just because a theory becomes fashionable, doesn't mean it is right (nor
> does it mean that it is wrong, either of course). It just means that those
> who disagree and still want study grants, tend to keep their heads down and
> keep silent. Popular science often acts as a suppresser of open inquiry.
> In the case of climate change, a number of scientists have kept their heads
> down for years -- ever since the 1962 Rio Summit made this a political and
> economic issue in scientific circles.
> 4. The secondary projections that arise from this warming -- sea-level
> rises, ice-cap collapse, long-term droughts, starvation, extinctions of
> species, islands disappearing, etc. etc, -- are yet another level removed
> from the science, which is itself in dispute. All this is even further
> abstracted from any real evidence.
Umm, I usually like to keep to "parliamentary language" in Link
discussions, but Stewart, where did you start borrowing arguments from
the bollocks bin?
Sea level rises are not "another level removed from the science". They
are empirical observation - as are the ice-cap issues. Islands
disappearing is a very mundane addition to the observed sea-level rises
- and in fact, this has already taken place (some little island in the
Indian Ocean). Species extinction may be viewed as speculative, except
that some species are already experiencing catastrophic decline (eg,
small alpine marsupials); the fact of extinction is not in doubt, merely
the extent (about which there will be varying predictions).
> 5. And my main point, is that computer processing of massive amounts of
> contemporary data is not a substitute for real evidence and logical argument
> arising from provable events in the past.
"Logical argument", I am sorry to say, is not science (and in fact is
just as often deployed against science as for). Science is the boring
stuff of observation, analysis, theory, prediction, etcetera.
A temperature change observed in ice cores is a provable event ... more
so than, for example, "grapes in Vinland" which may have been another
slice of Erik the Red's propaganda! Just because the proof lies in
knowledge not available to the lay training does not invalidate it as
science. And ice cores aren't the only indicator of very long-term
My final point: humanity doesn't need a "end of life on earth" climate
change for a crisis. We only need enough crisis to make our own society
non-tenable, our current practises or farming non-viable. The Earth will
go on quite well without us.
There is no inherent risk involved in reducing our energy use. Switching
off unnecessary lights is not an act which involves privation or loss of
the Western lifestyle; it's just that a bunch of idiots (there, I used
the word!) believe that simple frugality must somehow be associated with
"green communism" - in other words, in the strange world of the IPA, the
Cato Institute, the Frazer Institute and other bought lobbies, *not*
being recklessly wasteful with every available resource is evidence of a
political state of mind which is a threat to the western way of life.
What's wrong with calling "B.S." on such drivel?
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