Thursday, June 15, 2006

About that climate change thing ...

As a follow-up to my earlier piece, you might as well kick back, make yourself comfortable and go read. And not just because Tim's nice enough to give me a link at the bottom. That has nothing to do with it. No sir.

(By the way, note carefully how Tim, an Australian, knows enough about all of this to identify a "Canadian anti-Kyoto astroturf group." Suddenly, I feel so embarrassed. But nowhere near as embarrassed as the Blogging Tories should feel. If they had any shame, that is.)

And don't forget, kids, about those BTs that got absolute little woodies over that initial Canada Free Press article trashing Gore. There was The Strong Conservative, who opined that "some actual scientists with knowledge of the theory of global warming are speaking out, and quite critically."

Then there's the laughably-misnamed Technical Bard, who got all uppity about Gore's "scaremongering." And let us not overlook everyone's favourite whackjob and pathological liar Bill Strong, who described the worthlessly dishonest CFP article as a "must read."

I'm guessing that those of us who were hounded into exile about the whole Karl Rove indictment story shouldn't expect any sort of similar sheepish recriminations from the Right 'cuz, you know, that's just not the way they work. But you knew that.

. In the first comment below, ticked-off commenter and target "The Strong Conservative" whines:

Sir, Its easy to name call and label people liars, ...

And the title of his blog article to which I linked? "Gore's Convenient Lie."

Sometimes, this job is just way too easy.


The Strong Conservative said...

Its easy to name call and label people liars, however I believe your cause would be better served by providing the actual evidence for global warming instead of believing in it blindly like someone in a cult.
Then again, liberalism shares many resemblances of a cult.

M@ said...

Yeah, what he said.

Same goes for evolution, too. Stop believing in things like some science-addled cult member.

steve said...

and gravity too

how stupid are these people?

aweb said...

See, here's where I'm confused. Are these commenters above serious, or a parody? One of each? It's really hard to tell.

Strong conservative, from your own latest post, in reference to a seemingly contradictory finding of arctic seas lowering slightly: "How that works is beyond me." So? Why should you be able to understand it?
The scientists are saying, basically, "That's odd, we need to understand this better, we better investigate". They're still trying to figure out this one bit of data, so why would we understand it.

Note that nowhere do they say,"global warming must be wrong then!". Hundreds/thousands of other experts, studying hundreds/thousands of other areas of the Earth, are saying global warming is real. Based on very strong evidence, even in the article you link to on your own blog: "ocean waters are shown to have gone up across the planet by 3.2mm per year for the period 1992 to the present." If you want to ignore it and pretend it isn't happening, go ahead, but when it accelerates (like the scientists are saying it will) and goes the ocean another foot, you'll probably wish you hadn't.

Nice neighbourhood by the way (see his blog), and I really wish the scientists were wrong on this too, but they aren't. Spring comes earlier (on average), the oceans are warmer (on average), there's less ice in the Arctic, and the oceans are rising too (in most places). If you need evidence for these statements, I suggest consulting the literature.

M@ said...


I was going to get all snarky at you but I commend you on your comment -- it was extremely intelligent and on point. So I'll say up front that previously, I was being 100% facetious.

Here's why I was so dismissive of TSC's comment. Science is a community. They tend, as a community, to go in generally the same direction (evolution is the mechanism) with arguments about the small stuff (slow progress vs punctuated equillibrium). They disagree a lot, but in general everyone is pretty much good with the general ideas (universal gravitational constant, Avogadro's number, pi, global warming, etc).

But the point is, if believing the scientific evidence -- the sum of the evidence, not this or that little bit that confirms one's own world view -- is the equivalent of being in a cult, then sign me up, because no cult has consistently succeeded in defining how things work.

The magical sky-man had millennia to change things. He didn't. Science has had an unbelievable effect on humans and on the quality of life on earth in general.

And I'll add that I was once skeptical about climate change. There was a ten-year period in Elizabethan times where crops were terrible because temperatures were significantly lower. But in learning more about the issue, I've found that there has never been a period where climate change has been observed, so dramatically, worldwide. And we can even explain the mechanisms that are causing it.

So yeah, there's plenty of research yet to do, and lots of discussion yet to come. But you aren't going to find a single piece of research completely turn everyone around. You'd need contradictory evidence equal to the magnitude of the evidence for climate change so far in order to disprove climate change. Don't hold your breath.

The Strong Conservative said...

I just want you liberals to admit that global warming is a THEORY rather than a fact.

I agree that more research is needed, but I maintain that it is supremely arogant of us as human beings to thing that we can change the world so profoundly by merely driving our cars. Volcanos often lower the world's temperature by a degree or so for some time following an eruption.

The few hundred years of evidence that this "community" is going on is merely a whisper in the milleniums of time that the earth goes through with ice ages, warming, meteorite impacts, volcanos etc.

M@ said...

TSC, let's start with the stupidest thing you said, one of the weakest canards in the pseudoscientist's arsenal: "global warming is a THEORY rather than a fact".

You must start by understanding that "theory", in scientific parlance, doesn't mean "guess" or "provisional position while we do some more research". Let me give you some other things that are "only" theories:

- Evolution. Yeah, just because it is the single unifying mechanism that explains how biology works doesn't mean we should, like, try to understand it, right? More research is required; maybe there's a proof for Eden in there somewhere.

- Gravity. We can describe how it seems to work, but can't explain how it works, despite centuries of trying. That's why you're floating away from the earth right now.

- Electromagnetic theory. Feel like doing more research? Better turn off your computer, your cell phone, and every other electronic device you own. Because they all run on this vague, unproven theory that needs much more work.

- Atomic theory. If you're in Ontario, better shut off the power to your house, because it's based on this wild theory that we can't even be sure works! Hold off on powering your house till they finish the research!

Stop with the pseudoscientific idiocy and try to learn something, here. Or shut the hell up. Thanks.

famousringo said...

TSC, if it is "supremely arogant of us as human beings to thing that we can change the world so profoundly by merely driving our cars," surely it is equally naive to assume that the consumption and waste of billions of humans has no significant impact on the planet.

I'm consistantly amazed that the same people who think it was perfectly reasonable to invade Iraq over a little shady intel often demand an ironclad scientific proof before they will consider climate change a threat.

Spook people with a little anthrax and they send thousands of their young people off to die. Suggest that civilization itself is at stake and they can't be bothered to ride a bus instead of an SUV.

David said...

"I just want you liberals to admit that global warming is a THEORY rather than a fact."

Funny! I just about spit coffee through my nose.

aweb said...

Sadly, global warming is a fact. It can be observed, directly, year after year. If you accept the temperature outside as a fact. Like the fact that ocean levels, in most places, are rising. Theories come in to try and explain these facts that we are observing.

Oh, and all the theories which are successful in explaining the extent of current warming trends incorporate human activities (like burning things!). That is also a fact.

m@, I sometimes try a comment like above to see if someone is open to a reasonable discussion. Occasionally someone is able to say "I see your point, the experts might be right. Maybe I could be wrong". TSC seems close to saying this, except for the part where he would conceed the climate experts (who are screaming ,in polite sciency ways, that we should stop polluting) would be better able to make conclusions and models than him. If it were our opinion against his, he'd have every reason to stick to his guns. But it's not. It's the experts opinions vs. his. He is unlikely to get past this, but hell, I might as well hope he could.

The Strong Conservative said...

Actually its the law of gravity, not the theory of gravity.

But i encourage you to test the theory from a high place and relay your results.

Global warming is not a fact. Facts can be proven empirically, however global warming does not meet the criterion for that standard.

Regardless, I think this is one of those issues that we'll have to agree to disagree. I do appreciate the respectable tone of most of my opponents barring a few militant lefties. I know the right is guilty of the same thing from time to time, but a civil debate is enjoyable and healthy.

M@ said...

The "Law of Gravity"? You mean Newton's law of universal gravitation? The one that was superceded by Einstein's general theory (!) of relativity?

Yes, we'll have to agree to disagree, if our point of argument is whether to believe in things based on whether evidence and explanations are readily available, or whether we vaguely remember someone calling them "laws".

David said...

From the pen of TSC:

"Then again, liberalism shares many resemblances of a cult."

"I do appreciate the respectable tone of most of my opponents"

CC said...

The Strong Conservative wrote:

"But i encourage you to test the theory from a high place and relay your results.

Global warming is not a fact. Facts can be proven empirically, however global warming does not meet the criterion for that standard.

I'm fascinated by this statement, so I have a simple question for you: Do you accept that evolution is a "fact?"

If not, we can stop wasting everyone's time right now and simply accept that you don't even remotely have the scientific background to engage in this discussion.

aweb said...

Global warming can't be proven empirically? Really? So we take temperatures over the course of 100 years, and they show that the average temperature is rising over time, and that's not a fact? Note I'm not trying to explain why it is happening here, just observing that it is. That makes something a fact.

In case you missed my last comment:

There are FACTS about global warming. These include the observed sea level changes, the increased temperatures worldwide, the loss of polar ice. These are observable, verifiable, testable, FACTS.

There are THEORIES about global warming. These involve figuring out what the mechanisms are behind the already observed (and hence factual) warming trend. All of the theories that make good predictive models involve human factors. So the theory says that to explain the data, you must account for the human activity. And it's unambiguous about this point.

That you can't acknowledge the difference between these two things : the FACTS, and the very good THEORIES that try to explain the observed facts which must include human activities to properly explain observations, only means that it's time to give up on you on this topic.

It sure is hot today. In theory, I mean. Apparently, that's not a fact to you.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see any links to specific scientific facts supporting the assertion that global temperatures are rising. This is taken as a given, but I actually saw a NASA article 4 years ago that asserted global temperatures were DROPPING.

I don't trust the data that I've heard anymore, and I certainly don't hold a random assertion that there has been a 1.5 inch rise in the ocean levels since 1992 is a clear indication of impending doom, rather than natural or local phenomena.

Let's get some facts out there!

By the way - back in the 1970s, there were tons of people vigorously claiming that we were headed for a new ice age. It all just sounds too much like Chicken Little to me, and I've yet to see any facts to support the assertions being made.