Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Global Warming again

I'm not a scientist (2/3's of an undergrad pre-med education - which doesn't qualify me jor jack squat). I don't play one on TV. So I when I want to know about science, I ask a scientist.

Timothy Ball is a climatologist with impeccable scientific credentials. He has championed a thorough-going review of global warming claims. A recent interview has some gems for those who are skeptical of the claims made in the last decade. He also suggests a number of websites to read about further critiques. Here's a sampling of some of his inconvenient truths:
“...consensus is not a scientific fact.”

'[T]hey have switched from talking about global warming to talking about climate change...since 1998 the global temperature has gone down -- only marginally, but it has gone down. In the meantime, of course, CO2 has increased in the atmosphere and human production has increased. So you've got what Huxley called the great bane of science -- “a lovely hypothesis destroyed by an ugly fact.” So by switching to climate change, it allows them to point at any weather event -- whether it's warming, cooling, hotter, dryer, wetter, windier, whatever -- and say it is due to humans. Of course, it's absolutely rubbish.'

“[T]he world has been warming since 1680 and the cause is changes in the sun. But in their computer models they hardly talk about the sun at all and in the IPCC summary for policy-makers they don't talk about the sun at all. And of course, if they put the sun into their formula in their computer models, it swamps out the human portion of CO2, so they can't possibly do that.”

Something I really appreciate is how he reminds us of things we should have known - like how the earth has warmed since the Little Ice Age and how beneficial the Medieval Warming Period was for human civilization (wiki articles - ymmv). Similarly, Archimedes Principle suggests that claims of low-level inundation are grossly inflated. I agree with him that the most likely player in terran climate change is the sun. This is backed up by repeated scientific observation and solid historical correlative data.

Anyway, it's something to look at. One thing I know for sure - I don't trust politicians playing scientists.

7 comments:

sftsexperience said...

i definitely don't like politicians playing scientists, but i'm troubled by this. it seems that i can choose from two camps regarding whom to believe on global warming/climate change:

1. the vast majority of climatologists all over the world who have been able to produce a great deal of evidence that climate change is accelerating in parallel to increased burning of fossil fuels

2. a small minority who believe that the above is somehow an international conspiracy to manipulate the world through fear into abandoning globalization and economic growth

to be honest, i don't think that the supposed "extreme environmentalists" have anywhere near enough power to quietly convince hundreds of credentialed scientists to sign onto a hoax in the absence of compelling evidence. frankly, the environmental movement has nowhere near the power that is wielded by the other extreme, the carte-blanche supporters of globalization and exploitation of the natural world for material gain.

it seems much more likely that there is compelling evidence that human activity is changing earth's climate at an alarming rate, but that there is still debate on exactly how and to what degree, as well as what we should do about it. the minority of climatologists who disagree (and idealogues who won't benefit from a reduction in fossil fuel burning) feel that they are being left out of the debate, or that the debate is being stifled too early for political reasons. which might even be true. but to claim, absent of any evidence whatsoever, that there is some vast environmental conspiracy of fear-mongering just seems absurd. what's next, the Illuminati?

liberty4u said...

The Internet is great! Just doing a simple search most people can see some obvious flaws in concerns about global warming. (See the charts at http://vathena.arc.nasa.gov/curric/land/global/climchng.html)

Global warming is not a scientific issue but a political issue.

Bayou Christian said...

"the vast majority of climatologists" interesting statement of "fact" care to back it up?

Actually most of these "reports" that come out include a couple of climatologists and a bunch of political extremests.

Thanks for putting this up - I just wish I could talk about it on my own blog - but not my purpose!

I like the discovery of the remains of fishing villages under the ice in Greenland - don't let the facts cloud your judgment out there.

SocietyVs said...

So you think global warming is false? I am no scientist either but I'd personally rather err on it - then against it - since all the facts aren't in yet (as you said).

Chris said...

Society,

Welcome!

The problem I have with taking the actions that global warming alarmists propose is that - by their own admission - it will cost $180 billion dollars a year (at least) through the end of this century. The result? A reduction of no more than 0.2 degrees Celsius! That's infinitesimal - practically unmeasurable. It would do NOTHING to stop the problems of global warming. It's a horrible investment. It makes much better sense to invest that money in solving poverty issues NOW and investing in technology for clean energy sources so that China, India, and the rest of the world will habe affordable energy sources available for their exploding populations.

And that's at the root of my problems with global warming hysteria. It's not so much about reducing the impact of our role in climate change (no matter how big or how small) as it is about advancing the aims of Western European-based ecosocialists. After all, the global south isn't even warming (despite this being a "global" problem).

An excellent discussion with Jonah Goldberg was hosted on NPR that explored the problems of adopting Kyoto protocols. He was expecially good at exploring how the money spent on reducing carbon emissions, etc. could be better spent right now on alleviating human suffering and investing in technology to cope with any "problems" posed by global warming.

Science is only as good as its ability to PREDICT phenomena. Global Warming Theory continues to fail in its ability to predict the outcome of reproducible tests and to predict what's happening at 5 and ten year intervals. Nobody is talking about this, but it's true. Four to six thousand years ago, the earth was so warm that there were no glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere - despite us not having an advanced economy. Why? WE DON'T KNOW. We can't predict or project yet. We can't account for the past, either. Failed ecological theories shouldn't trump proven economic growth patterns.

There's a lot of good analysis of the science, policy, and economics of global warming at the National Center for Policy Analysis. There's just so much good information about problems with the theories around global warming that it makes little sense to pump money into it when we KNOW that we can use that money to change the lives of people around the world.

liberty4u said...

Society wrote: So you think global warming is false? I am no scientist either but I'd personally rather err on it - then against it - since all the facts aren't in yet (as you said).

I am assuming that you are saying that you condone government action to stop global warming. But, from my experience, government, more often than not, causes more problems than it solves.

For example, government tried to solve the problem of poverty. They spend billions a year on the problem, and it is worse now than it was before. (I apologize for no sources, I can find some if you need them.)

I think any legislation will have harmful unintended consequences and probably will increase, rather than decrease, global warming. I have no scientific evidence of this, but would rather err on the side to improve our environment (keeping these issues out of the political realm as much as possible) than to err in a way that cannot be reversed (have you ever seen government give up any power, once it has been given to them.)

sftsexperience said...

sure bayou christian, I'd be happy to back it up.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The National Science Academies of all G8 nations along with those of Brazil, China and India

The US National Research Council

The American Meterological Society

The American Institute of Physics

The American Geophysical Union

Let's see, the Joint Statement on the Science of Climate Change looks like it has dozens of national academies of science signing onto it...

I'll stop here because I'm tired of typing - but all of these national and international bodies of scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans burning fossil fuels.

Finally, according to the Associated Press in January 2007:

"Climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.

"The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete references to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report."

So, is this some sort of "ecosocialist" hoax? (What the heck is an ecosocialist anyway?)

My take on it remains a strong "no".