Saturday, June 17, 2006

Global warming has its doubters. For real?

Uh-oh Mr. Gore!
Just another set of opinions on the unknowable. Thought I'd throw it into the ring for your amusement.

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm

We have 150 years of temperature records to base our assumptions on, which for a planet that is 4.5 billion years old, a statistical sampling so miniscule as to be utterly laughable. I personally think that the behavior of the sun is the most important component in climate change, but also admit that I haven't a clue as to the scientific method required to arrive at the truth of what I think. It is UNKNOWABLE!

Why can't humans be humble enough to realize that there are many things, in our known universe, that we can't predict or control? To know how the atmosphere of a planet is going to behave in the near future and predict with certainty what this will do to human life is nothing short of arrogant hubris pure and simple. I refuse to scare little children with this nonsense.

It is kinda like trying to describe what God looks like or as Shakespeare so penetratingly wrote 400 years ago:

But man, proud man,

Drest in a little brief authority,

Most ignorant of what he's most assured,

His glassy essence, like an angry ape,

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven

As make the angels weep
.

Well said bard.

By the way, the most excellent Utah Shakespeare Festival, held annually in Cedar City, starts this coming week on June 22nd. Ya'll come see a play or two if you get the chance.A very cool dude.

9 comments:

Audie said...

Ah yes, the Canada Free Press -- that clearinghouse of scientific truth and rigor -- and an article probably found by this blogger via Matt Drudge or some other fundamentalist right-wing industry mouthpiece. And my, my -- the referenced article was written by Tom Harris, a self-professed "mechanical engineer" and a director of High Park Group, "a public affairs and public policy company." Well, guess what industry they advise? (Hint: it rhymes with "synergy.")

It is hardly worth crowing over the discovery of a climate-change-denial article in the popular press, especially one written by an energy industry 'advisor' and found in such a barely-even-on-the-fringe outlet as "CanadaFreePress.com." I'll stick to Nature and Science and other peer-reviewed journals over these guys when I need to know the latest on matters of science.

A few comments on some of the article's claims:

Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change.

Note that Harris doesn't tell us who these "hundreds of highly qualified ... climate experts" are, or where we can find the bases of their contestations. (They certainly aren't found in recent issues of any scientific journals.) This is typical of poor writing -- citing some mysterious, unnamed source, and leaving it at that. Of the few names (not hundreds) that he does mention, at least three are identified as former professors or professors emeritus; given that this science has changed a lot in just the past few years, one wonders why these folks are touted as the experts to listen to over current scientists. In any case, most of these geezers are well-known climate change deniers who only find an audience in the popular press -- concerned as it is with giving a "balanced" perspective -- and NOT in the scientific press, which is concerned not with giving a balanced perspective but the successfully tested perspective.

Anyway, as for Carter, he is cited as being a professor at one of Australia's public universities -- one wonders how he still qualifies as a "non-governmental" expert. More important, though, much is made of the allegation that many of the scientists Gore refers to are legitimate researchers, but they are researching impacts of climate change, and are not qualified when it comes to drawing conclusions about the causes of global climate change. What is ironic is that Carter appears to, at best, fit the same description. A review of his impressive list of publications

http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/new_page_4.htm

reveals that he is a geologist, with a concentration in marine sedimentology. His interest, then, in atmospheric science is largely a personal one -- which explains why his few "publications" in the arena of climate change are all merely found in newspapers, online and radio opinion pieces, such "scientific" (or would that be "commercial interest") publications as the Australian Financial Review, and of course, Rotary Club speeches -- none of which hold their authors to account for their claims.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Bob_Carter

So, what makes him a "highly qualified climate expert"?

And how about "former University of Winnipeg climatology professor" Tim Ball? This ancient fellow has written a grand total of 4 "books" -- two of which there is only one copy in existence (his Master's and Doctoral theses), one of which is a textbook titled The Fundamentals of Physical Geography, and one is a generalist non-fiction book titled Eighteenth-Century Naturalists of Hudson Bay. In 34 years, he has published only two articles on climate change in peer-reviewed journals -- the most recent being 20 years ago.

Talk about things being "utterly laughable" -- I like Tom Harris trying to pass these folks off as "highly qualified experts" in climate science.

Lastly, your continued construction of straw men implicit in such statements as "To know how the atmosphere of a planet is going to behave in the near future and predict with certainty what this will do to human life..." (etc. etc.) continues to reflect your ignorance of what the issue is even about. When you find a scientific article that makes claims of certainty such as these, let me know.

Really, Beamis? The "planet is 4.5 billion years old"? Nonsense! It is UNKNOWABLE! How arrogant and hubristic of you!

Devastatin' Dave said...

As I've gotten older, there are two maxims that have served me well. The first one is, "The eyes are the window to the soul" and the second one is Occam's Razor. Concerning Occam's Razor...

The most useful statement of the principle for scientists is,

"when you have two competing theories which make exactly the same predictions, the one that is simpler is the better."


Thus, when it comes to global warming or any other climatic change, I'm following Occam's Razor and sticking with solar output variation and natural climatic cycles as the cause. Imagine that, the sun actually affecting the weather on our planet.

Audie said...

Also imagine fluctuations exceeding those attributable to the sun, volcanoes, etc., and you begin to understand what the hubbub is about.

Occam's Razor, as you indicate, applies to theories that, aside from their complexity, are otherwise comparable. Therefore, N/A.

Are you an ex-pat yet, DD?

beamis said...

Okay Aud---the earth is only 1 million years old, and 150 years of temperature records is still laughable.

Devastatin' Dave said...

Not yet. Leave for D.C. tomorrow, then fly out on the 26th. I can't take this midwest humidity. It's like The Congo here.

beamis said...

The Potomac River Valley is just like the Congo basin, but more humid.

David Gillman said...

Gore's movie showed some alarming things, but it left out a lot. I wish he had tried to answer Richard Linzen, the MIT climatologist:

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/Iris/

instead of just saying there's no opposition.

The thing is, though, even if we're not causing global warming, a lot of people could be under water soon. I mean, if we can't reverse it, we should be even more alarmed.

beamis said...

We'll adapt, we have to.

Steve said...

I worry that anyone under the age of, say, 20, doesn't realize that "Global Warming" is a catch-phrase with full religious zeal attached. The reliosity here issues forth from the university-scientific community. That isn't to say it's all bogus, but it is swept along in a media-driven fury to such an extent that the truth cannot presently be pried apart from the baloney. The vessel had already reached escape velocity (escape from objectivity, that is), but now its fervor is increased even more by--A MOVIE! I would think climatologists must be deeply embarrassed that politico-Holywood is propagandizing their findings.