Monday, May 09, 2005

Be amazed
When science is brought to bear on the theory of global warming. As much as global warming skeptics are condemned as ignorant and stupid (typically ranked at similar levels of the intelligence scale as people who don't believe in evolution), this article helps point out that there are real, scientific reasons not to jumpt to conclusion that the planet is warming in any significant way, that ocean levels will rise substantially, and that, even if all of that is true, there's any thing we can do about it.

10 comments:

Charley on the MTA said...

Hey there. There is scientific consensus about global warming, that it is happening, and that human beings are causing it. It's just not in dispute in the scientific community, the article/column you linked to notwithstanding. Please see this:

"Policy-makers and the media, particularly in the United States, frequently assert that climate science is highly uncertain. Some have used this as an argument against adopting strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, while discussing a major U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report on the risks of climate change, then-EPA administrator Christine Whitman argued, "As [the report] went through review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change" (1). Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in the science (2). Such statements suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is not the case."

Just read it. I'm sorry, but if you want to know about the science of global warming, you'll just have to ask a scientist, not a hack who writes for a right-wing think tank. (I realize that's an appeal to authority, but that's all that we ordinary citizens have to go on.)

Charley on the MTA said...

Hey, I've got another idea: You're at one of the premiere learning institutions on the planet. Ask any of these people what's up with global warming.
http://www.geology.yale.edu/people/

Show them that article you linked, and ask them what they think. Seriously!

Dave Justus said...

Charley,

I have seen some other articles, sorry I don't have the links now, questioning the article you linked to.

Because the political aspects have become so intertwined with the science in this matter it is very hard to find reliable information on either side of this issue.

Personally, I believe that climate change is happening. I believe that human activity is contributing to that change.

What I don't believe is that we know how much of the change is a result of human activity, what the effects of this change will be, or how to effectively combat it. Climatological science is not very advanced, there are so many variable that it is difficult to study this and obviously, without a few other 'earths' to play around with it is impossible to expirament on directly.

I am convinced though that the Kyoto Protocols will not be effective at combating this change but will have an immense economic impact that will make it more difficult to deal with the effects of a changing climate.

Joe said...

Count me in the "We have a real problem on our hands, one that may be unsolvable, but Kyoto isn't the answer" camp.

Especially since economic prosperity has been shown as one of the few things that actually improves stewardship of the environment among a society.


But yeah, the science on global warming is pretty solid. There are minor doubts, but they're somewhere between "Did the Chinese land in North America before we did?" and "Did the Holocaust really happen?" in terms of credibility.

Bottom line - if ever there were a thing worth being extra cautious about...

Charley on the MTA said...

Hi Dave,

Well, I just think that if there's a question of science, one should ask a scientist. Don't just throw up your hands and say "Gosh, we really don't know", or resort to ad hominem arguments ("well, all those scientists are *liberals*!").

Science is self-correcting to a great degree. That doesn't mean that our knowledge is perfect. But everything in science has to undergo peer review, and data have to be reproducible.

You write: "Climatological science is not very advanced" -- even if that's true (and I'm not convinced), therefore we're all free to believe whatever is convenient for us? No. You go by the best evidence you have.

You write: "There are so many variable that it is difficult to study this and obviously, without a few other 'earths' to play around with it is impossible to expirament on directly."

Well, that's reductio ad absurdum. Of course we don't have multiple earths, but we have *ample* evidence on this one of what's happening.

I'm sorry, but there *is* scientific consensus on this issue. I wish there weren't -- it would make me feel a lot better for my kid. But I do wish that Mr. RFTR blogger @ Yale would bother to ask some of his fabulous geology professors what they think about this. (And if he doesn't want to ask the because he's convinced they're a bunch of "eeevil liberal hacks", then I think he should refrain from touting his fabulous Yale pedigree. :) )

Seriously all: look, I'm a big liberal shill. You know that, I know that. But nothing matters but the truth. I'm willing to stake my reputation (FWIW) on going with the scientists. And if y'all (as we say in MA) are making an argument that contradicts what the *vast majority* of scientists think on the issue ... well gosh, I hope you're really really really a lot smarter than they are.

RFTR said...

The problem, Charley, is that geologists are not in any way qualified to tell me whether greenhouse gases are causing global warming, or if humanity is the primary genesis of those greenhouse gases. Want to ask someone who is? Take a look at this.

And this week we got a peer-reviewed article that said greenhouse gases are decreasing and the planet is cooling!

But to get back to my point, you want to ask a scientist? Well, restrict that further—ask a climatologist. I can't seem to find it now, but a while back I linked to a pew-funded poll of climatologists. If I remember right, over 60% of them responded that the current warming trends are a natural event with no clear explanation.

Charley on the MTA said...

Brian, please look at this website:
http://www.geology.yale.edu/
And you will notice that the *first topic* at the top is ... wait for it...
Atmosphere/Oceans/Climate Dynamics!
So yeah, geology covers a lot of stuff. And indeed, oceanographers *do indeed* know a lot about global warming. You should really ask them. (I double-dog-dare you.)

I think it's terrific that you found an article that posits another theory about climate change. Sure, it may be right, and it may be a contributing factor. Sure, could be.

So for my side, I refer you to the vast corpus of literature that shows that human beings are changing the climate. Just click the link to the Science magazine article at the top, which has boo-coos of references. Or, quick and dirty, here's this from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes "Science" Magazine, which is only the most respected scientific journal around.
http://www.ourplanet.com/aaas/pages/atmos02.html


Regarding the earlier blog post: Now, look, I'm not asking Stephen King about what he thinks about brain science -- why are you referring to Michael Crichton? Phooey to that. He's not an authority. I'll see your Crichton and raise you the AAAS.

I'm telling you, ask the Yale profs. What are you afraid of?

RFTR said...

OK Charley, you've baited me enough.

1)I didn't not mention the Crichton piece, as I knew that would be your response. I was only cluing you into the piece about sunspots.

2)I do not ask the Yale profs because I know where they stand--in the same place as just about every other science professor at just about every university in the country. Oh, and, just about every other professor in the country.

Much as you might like to believe it, science is not above politics. When you look at certain things in certain ways, you're going to find what you expect. These people don't question whether or not man is the cause of global warming, they just look for other ways to prove it. When you show me a paper that investigates other possibilities (or better yet a whole slew of them in your treasured "Science" magazine) then we'll start to talk.

But your point is well taken. I should ask these people because they will without question back up what you say. Unfortunately, that's becuse they made up their minds long ago and no longer entertain any other possibilities.

Furthermore, I notice you went out of your way not to respond to my mention of the pew-poll of climatologists. Way to go on that one, but if you're going to be so indignant, arrogant, and self-certain, you should at least address the points I raise.

Charley on the MTA said...

Brian, I really don't mean to be rude, only funny. I do mean to "bait you" insofar as I wish I could get you to change your mind. I'll try to respond the best I can.

Regarding the Pew poll, please produce said poll, and then we can talk. Of course I'll look at it. That's fair.

However, I would also say that it really doesn't seem fair to accuse all the Yale faculty of bias, and say they're unwilling to re-examine their beliefs, when 1. you haven't asked them yet, pre-emptively assigning them "liberal bias"; and 2. you seem unwilling to re-examine your own beliefs.

Like I say, science is self-correcting to some degree. *By no means* does that make it perfect, but when scientists tend to agree on a theory, it's because it has great explanatory power for the data that they've observed. And because of peer review, scientists are challenged *all the time*. It's in the nature of the field that if you publish something, someone is going to want to take you down. So, bias based on *politics* in the sciences is just very unlikely -- it gets rooted out over time, and global warming is *not* a new theory.

(Now, bias of all sorts -- political, aesthetic, temperamental, regional -- in most other academic fields is rife, I will grant you.)

Charley on the MTA said...

Hi Brian,

A little googling later... I was interested to find out that Pew does climate change as one of its main areas of study.

Give it an eyeball and see what you think.